WHILE much of Airlie Beach was enjoying Christmas, the Eco Barge Turtle Team had hungry marine turtles to care for and feed.
This week, the efforts of these dedicated volunteers were rewarded, with three of the turtles having fully recovered to the point of being released.
Turtle Team volunteer Shelley Evans said caring for the turtles had been the most amazing experience.
"And to know that these turtles are now healthy enough to go back out and hopefully live out their extremely long lives is just the best feeling ever," she said.
Particularly exciting for the Whitsunday Turtle Rescue Centre was the release of Kankama, a beautiful female adult green turtle weighing over 100 kilograms.
Kankama was the patient who spent the longest in the Turtle Rescue Centre to date, after being rescued off Hayman Island on July 26 last year.
Eco Barge Clean Seas founder Libby Edge said Kankama was suffering from float syndrome "and tilted to one side quite dramatically". "To everyone's concern [she] displayed minimal activity and a lack of appetite for the first three months in care," she said.
Finally Kankama started eating and it was only a matter of waiting for her float to subside before she could be released.
Ms Edge said the recovery was "fantastic to watch".
"It really is quite heartbreaking when we receive a call about a stranded turtle, as many of them are suffering from extreme starvation when they are rescued," she said.
"But through the support of all of our partners and the local community [and] particularly the dedication of the Turtle Team, we have been able to help 13 of these turtles get back to full condition since the Turtle Centre was launched in May 2013."
Members of the community who see a sick or injured marine turtle are asked to phone 1300 ANIMAL (264 625).
For more information visit http://www.ecobargecleanseas.org.au.
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