Lucky Queensland turtle released

Issued: 23 May 2023

The juvenile green turtle was taken to Cabbage Tree Point for release.

The juvenile green turtle was taken to Cabbage Tree Point for release.

The boat strike marks on the carapace show how lucky this turtle is to be alive.

The boat strike marks on the carapace show how lucky this turtle is to be alive.

A green turtle who has escaped two near-death experiences has been released again to the wild by the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service (QPWS) and Sea World in celebration of World Turtle Day 2023.

Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service Ranger Natalie Sands said the juvenile turtle is extremely lucky, and upon its release at Cabbage Tree Point, it was given some stern advice.

“We told the turtle that we didn’t want to see it in rehabilitation again, and hopefully that will turn out to be the case,” Ms Sands said.

“The turtle first stranded at Jacobs Well in southern Moreton Bay on 2 October 2016, when it was entangled in fishing line and hooked.

“It was taken to Sea World, where the hook and fishing line was removed and after spending 23 days in rehabilitation, it was fitted with a titanium tag in the flipper.

“When the turtle was released on 25 October 2016, everyone thought they would never be seen again but it didn’t turn out that way.

“On 5 October 2022, almost six years to the day after its first stranding, the turtle was found floating in a netted swimming enclosure next to the Jacobs Well Volunteer Marine Rescue base.

“The volunteer marine rescue crew contacted Sea World, who arranged for it to be transported to their facility for an examination.

“The turtle was in poor health, with a large, healing boat strike wound on its carapace, it has a missing rear flipper and it needed urgent attention.

“The tag in its flipper provided Sea World staff with its unfortunate back story of previous rehabilitation, and it was given anti-parasitic medication and antibiotics.

“The turtle also had an abscess which needed to be treated, and it underwent regular x-rays to check for internal issues.

“Seven months after being rescued and rehabilitated again, the turtle was assessed as being strong and healthy enough to be released.”

Ms Sands said releasing marine animals back into the wild was extremely satisfying, but also a reminder of the threats faced by marine animals.

“The fact this turtle stranded twice shows the impact lost or discarded fishing equipment can have, and it is very lucky because most boat strikes on turtles are fatal,” she said.

“Turtles strand more than any other marine animal, with our dedicated volunteers responding to an incredible 662 turtle strandings across Queensland in 2022.

“In 2022, turtles accounted for 94 per cent of all strandings reported to DES, and unfortunately many of those turtles were deceased.

“Thankfully, many do get released back into the wild, and I’d like to thank all the rehabilitation centres and the dedicated people from the turtle volunteer groups who provide care and conservation support for marine turtles across the state.

“Turtle volunteers take on vital roles including responding to reports of sick, injured, or stranded turtles, supporting specialist organisations and vets to rehabilitate turtles, and gather important stranding data to help shape long-term conservation efforts.

“QPWS is extremely grateful for the dedication of our volunteers who go out of their way to help our precious marine wildlife.”

This World Turtle Day (23 May), the Department of Environment and Science (DES) is saying thank you to the more than 20 turtle stranding volunteer groups across Queensland.

People are reminded to go slow for those below. Marine animal strandings can be reported to the department by calling 1300 130 372.

Photos and videos are available from the media centre.