The recent release of a rehabilitated green sea turtle named Nalu back into the waters of the Great Sandy Strait has reinforced why local turtle rescue and research efforts are a priority for UniSC on the Fraser Coast.
Nalu spent more than 12 months in care after being found stranded on Woody Island off Hervey Bay. She had been close to death with a horrific boat strike injury to her shell.
In a great story of cooperation, she was rescued by local Marine Park Rangers and transported to Wildlife Warriors Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital for emergency veterinary attention before transfer to Sea World Research, Rescue and Conservation to complete her rehabilitation and recovery.
“Accidental boat strikes are just one of the threats facing marine turtles who are struggling in the region due to the loss of seagrass, one of their main food sources,” said UniSC marine biologist Associate Professor Kathy Townsend.
Dr Townsend is lead academic for Turtles in Trouble Research, a partnership between the University of the Sunshine Coast researchers, Butchulla Native Title Aboriginal Corporation (BNTAC), and marine rescue volunteer group.
Turtles in Trouble Rescue volunteers are reporting more incidents of accidental boating injuries as malnourished and weak turtles spend more time resting on the surface of the water.
It is a reminder of the need to “go slow for those below” and keep an eye out for turtles and dugongs, particularly in seagrass grazing areas.
People who would like to help protect the iconic, endangered species can find out more here.
Dr Townsend said UniSC was leading the project to establish the marine turtle research, rescue and rehabilitation centre in Hervey Bay to give threatened turtles the best care and greatest opportunity for survival.
“Having a facility at Hervey Bay will allow us to triage rescued turtles in need of care and conduct vital research into the general health of our threatened turtle populations and other sea life, which is not just important for this region, but also globally,” she said.
Expected to open late next year, it will also save Turtle in Trouble rescue volunteers from rushing the injured animals on a three-hour drive south to the Australia Zoo Animal Hospital on the Sunshine Coast for life-saving care.
While the Queensland Government has contributed more than $1 million to the centre, additional funding is still needed to support the research efforts.
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