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Rescue centre carers celebrate turtle release

MAGIC MOMENT: The Eco Barge team and Villa Botanica staff were thrilled to release a rescued turtle back into the wild. Pictured are: Libby Edge, Debbie Niale, Danny Micallef, Lee Southern (back) and Andie Kriwonosow, Emma Ferguson and Jacki Smith (front).
MAGIC MOMENT: The Eco Barge team and Villa Botanica staff were thrilled to release a rescued turtle back into the wild. Pictured are: Libby Edge, Debbie Niale, Danny Micallef, Lee Southern (back) and Andie Kriwonosow, Emma Ferguson and Jacki Smith (front).

THE Whitsunday Turtle Rescue Centre is celebrating the successful return to sea of a green turtle, released at Villa Botanica on Friday, November 7.

'Bumps' is a juvenile turtle found floating off Botanica Beach on September 28 by local resident, and Eco Barge Clean Seas volunteer, Andie Kriwonosow.

Founding Chair of Eco Barge Clean Seas, Libby Edge, said most of the turtles cared for by the rescue centre this year had come in with 'floating syndrome', the result of an air pocket developed through internal injuries or blockages.

"Our biggest fear is that the blockage may have been caused through the ingestion of marine debris," she said. Ms Edge explained that turtles stuck on the surface of the water were unable to feed, escape boats or predators, and were constantly exposed to the sun.

"The horrible reality is when a turtles has "float" they are unable to dive for their food source and slowly starve to death over many months. It is truly heartbreaking to witness and we are so blessed we have the Whitsunday Turtle Rescue Centre to be able to try and help these vulnerable turtles," she said.

Unlike many of the extremely malnourished turtles cared for at the centre, Ms Edge said Bumps must have been found relatively soon after beginning to float and she responded exceptionally well to the care and food provided. The float disappeared after only a month and she was then given the green light for release.

"The great result with Bumps just goes to show how important it [is] that our local community know what they should do if they encounter a sick or injured marine turtle and that is... to call the 1300 ANIMAL (264 625) hotline number so our Turtle Rescue Team can respond," Ms Edge said.

The Whitsunday Turtle Rescue Centre was launched at Eco Barge HQ in May 2013, in conjunction with Fauna Rescue Whitsundays, and has cared for 23 turtles this year, with Bumps being the sixth successful release. For information visit http://www.ecobargecleanseas.org.au.


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