Sea turtle rehabilitation and research | UniSC | University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

Accessibility links

Sea turtle rehabilitation and research

Fighting for survival

Recently, the number of stranded, sick and injured sea turtles has risen dramatically. Flooding has smothered seagrass meadows with sediment and large amounts of plastic and rubbish has been swept into the sea from storm drains. The impact has been devastating.

Our endangered sea turtles can’t tell the difference between food and rubbish. They ingest plastic and other marine debris and become entangled in plastic loops and bags. As seagrass supply dwindles, turtles also face starvation.

With sea turtles at the top of the world's most endangered animal list, we must act now to save them.

Life-saving rescue needs local support

Despite the desperate situation, there are no rehabilitation facilities focussed on life-saving research between Gladstone and the Sunshine Coast.

Right now, stranded turtles travel hours from their ocean home to get to inland hospitals that are operating beyond capacity.

Sea turtle rescuers are being forced to make heart-breaking triage decisions, leaving sick and injured turtles on the beach.

Take action to rehabilitate and research

Our urgent priority is to establish a well-equipped, dedicated, turtle rehabilitation and research centre in Hervey Bay to rescue and rehabilitate the large number of turtles in danger.

This will give our endangered turtles the best care and the greatest opportunity for survival. The team will conduct vital research into the general health of threatened turtle populations and other sea life.

New insight into disease, environmental stressors and pollutants contributing to sea turtle stranding improves local and global conservation efforts, creating transformational change for the survival of our oceans and its wildlife.

You can help us take action, right now, to create the right facility for this work.

A $1 million commitment from the Queensland Government

We have recently received a remarkable commitment of $1 million from the Queensland Government to establish a turtle rescue, rehabilitation, and research centre at Hervey Bay.

UniSC has been chosen to lead this initiative, which demonstrates its strong dedication to this crucial cause. However, additional funding is still needed to support the research efforts. Please, can you give today and help us protect this iconic, and now endangered, species?

Yes, I'd like to help!
UniSC Vice-Chancellor and President, Professor Helen Bartlett with partners including Turtles in Trouble Rescue, Fraser Coast Regional Council and the Butchulla Native Title Aboriginal Corporation.

Leading the way

Associate Professor Kathy Townsend, is a leading marine biologist, who will lead the project team of internationally renowned researchers in human impact on the marine environment and a large team of Higher Degree by Research (HDR) students.

USC Animal Ecology Lecturer Dr Kathy Townsend

"There are so many important aspects to sea turtles; people will travel from all around the world to see them, they are culturally significant to the Butchulla people, and they have a central contribution to the ecosystem. I don’t think anybody wants to live in a world without sea turtles.”

Associate Professor Kathy Townsend

Turtle research at UniSC - IN THE NEWS

Dugongs and turtles are starving to death in Queensland seas – and La Niña’s floods are to blame

UniSC Associate Professor Kathy Townsend explores how sediment from huge rains and floods is smothering the seagrass turtles and dugongs rely on.

Campaign to help turtle rescue, rehabilitation and research

A UniSC-led proposal to establish a turtle rescue, rehabilitation and research centre in the Wide Bay region is gaining momentum, as fears grow that hundreds of turtles are in danger of starving to death.

Turtle lifeline

Starving and battling a mystery 'soft shell' syndrome, endangered marine turtles in Queensland’s Fraser Coast region are in a tough fight for survival.

More information

Ben Nicoll
Manager, UniSC Advancement Office
Tel: +61 7 5430 1137