WATCH: Mackay turtle returns to sea after amazing recovery
ON the brink of a slow and painful death, Donatella the turtle has humans to thank for her incredible survival story.
A small crowd of supporters gathered on Mackay Harbour Beach to watch as the Hawksbill turtle returned to sea after a six week recovery.
Passers-by on the Mackay Breakwater spotted Donatella looking sick and lethargic and alerted nearby canoe paddler Christine Denelzen to the distressed turtle.
Ms Denelzen's cousin put Donatella on his lap as they paddled to shore to get help.
From there, she was taken to Mackay and District Turtle Watch, then transferred to the Whitsunday Turtle Rescue Centre.
The turtle was found to have air in her tummy, a condition which prevented her from diving down for food and would have eventually ended in death.
Eco Barge Clean Seas founding chair Libby Edge said it was an "amazing event" to watch Donatella return back to her home and feeding ground.
"We like to bring them back to their feeding ground," Ms Edge said.
"If we release turtles that we found in other regions to the Whitsundays area, they actually swim all the way back to their feeding ground.
"So we do a little bit of leg work for them."
Ms Denelzen said she was overjoyed to be a part of Donatella's incredible journey.
"When we had her in our care for that short time, we didn't think she was going to make it, she was that ill," she said.
"To see her so alive and full of energy - it was brilliant."
To report marine animal strandings, call the Department of Environment and Science on 1300 130 372.
Share your story and photos with us: Daily Mercury
Share your story and photos with us: Whitsunday Times