BACK TO NATURE: Jaimy took no time in swimming out to sea after her release.
BACK TO NATURE: Jaimy took no time in swimming out to sea after her release. Trish Bowman

Turtles released into sea after long rehabilitation

WITH her neck, flippers and carapace entangled in recreational fishing gear and weighing just 11.5kg, green sea turtle Rita wasn't expected to live but after four months in care at Quoin Island Turtle Rehabilitation Centre she was released back to the ocean with her friend Jaimy.

Since the centre's inception eight years ago, it has rescued and rehabilitated more than 250 turtles, with most of the turtles having been injured by marine debris in the ocean.

Rita was a perfect example of the damage marine debris in waterways can cause.

Found at Ritamada Beach in March, Rita was one of the lucky ones having been rescued and rehabilitated.

 

Rita and Jaimy formed a friendship during their time in rehabilitation and were released together.
Rita and Jaimy formed a friendship during their time in rehabilitation and were released together. Trish Bowman

Quoin Island Retreat and Turtle Rehabilitation Centre manager Richard Gilmore said Rita was found in a poor state.

"After rescuing her from the beach she was taken to our vet, Greg, at Alma Street Veterinary," Mr Gilmore said.

"Her right flipper was entangled so much it cut circulation off to her flipper and as a result we had to amputate.

"Her left flipper was also in a poor state, deeply cut from the fishing line, however the vet was able to save this flipper ensuring her survival when she was later released.

 

Emu Park Primary School students joined the crowd of well-wishers at the turtle release .
Emu Park Primary School students joined the crowd of well-wishers at the turtle release . Trish Bowman

"Without both flippers the result would not have been so bright for Rita and we wouldn't have seen a release, so it is a positive result that the team at Alma Street Vets were able to keep the left flipper intact.

"After four months in care, Rita was ready for release at a healthy weight of 20kg. Even though one flipper down, we will see her swimming around like all her other turtle friends in her natural environment."

Likewise, Jaimy was found floating in the shallows near the Todd Ave beach entrance weighing only 9.06kg and looking worse for wear.

 

Wildlife rehabilitation supervisors Matthew Lynn and Kirsten Smith take the turtles to the shoreline for release.
Wildlife rehabilitation supervisors Matthew Lynn and Kirsten Smith take the turtles to the shoreline for release. Trish Bowman

Both turtles were released at Emu Park boat ramp beach just after 9.30am last Wednesday and didn't hesitate to return to their homes in the sea.

The centre is Gladstone's first permanent marine turtle rehabilitation facility, being fully open and operational since March 2012.

Mr Gilmore said it had a host of volunteers up and down the east coast, including 12 "turtle taxi" volunteers based on the Capricorn Coast who are trained on how to collect a turtle in the correct manner, take specific information from the turtle to report, and assist in getting the turtle to Gladstone.

"People can be involved by volunteering at our volunteer sessions in Gladstone on the island each Saturday from 8am to noon. We have up to three volunteers per shift attend on a rotating roster," he said.

 

Rita and Jaimy were carried to the waterline at Emu Park on Wednesday.
Rita and Jaimy were carried to the waterline at Emu Park on Wednesday. Trish Bowman

"People can also get involved by donating to the centre to rehab a turtle. The average cost to rehabilitate a turtle in care over three months is $5000 so we are happy to accept any assistance possible."

The centre consists of multiple containment tanks, a 9m swimming pool and a newly constructed treatment and dry dock room.

Quoin Island Turtle Rehabilitation Centre is licensed to rehabilitate up to 10 marine turtles at any one time.

If you see or find a stranded, sick or injured turtle, phone 1300 ANIMAL or QITRC direct on 0408431304.



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