SEA LIFE The Sunshine Coast released four rehabilitated turtles back into the ocean at Mooloolaba Beach, Queensland, on Monday, January 23.
Four green sea turtles, Jake, Luna, Goku and Cavill, have been taken under protection. SEA LIFE Sunshine Coast between August and November last year. According to SEA LIFE staff underwent “extensive” rehabilitation to prepare for the turtles being released back into the ocean.
“It’s a great feeling to have four turtles back in the ocean at the same time, it’s a great way to start the year,” said staff member Brittany Attwood. We’re very attached to them, but it’s definitely a win for the species.”
The quad release precedes Clean Up for the Hatchlings, an event on February 4 that encourages the community to come together to help clean up the beaches of the Sunshine Coast as they prepare for breeding season. Credit: SEA LIFE Sunshine Coast via Storyful
– Just tell us about the four beautiful turtles you’ll be releasing today.
BRITAIN ATTWOOD: Yes, we have four gorgeous green sea turtles ready to hit the road today. So they’re in maintenance– we have Cavill. He was our longest friend. With us since August. The other children have been with us since about November. So they’ve all survived countless things and been cleaned by the vet team, so they’re ready to go back to that beautiful blue ocean today.
– Wow. So what are some things — in what state have they been?
BRITAIN ATTWOOD: Yes. So whenever a turtle is found, they are usually in extremely bad shape. They are quite lethargic as they were unwell a few months before they came to the rehabilitation centre. So we have Cavill. In fact, he had soft shell syndrome, a disease that circulates in some local turtles.
So he’s completely recovered from this, which is great. We have Jake. With the help of the team at Aussie Zoo Wildlife Hospital, he was actually treated for a collapsed lung. And then we have Goose and Luna, and they’ve been treated for floating syndrome.
– Wow. So what kind of work are you doing rehabilitating them here, and what makes them incapable of being ready to go back to the ocean?
BRITAIN ATTWOOD: Yes. That’s why we do so many different types of business. Frankly, we have injectables they took while they were here. If they have some skin lesions or scab lesions, they can take some betadine baths. And then, of course, we can also do x-rays and take some blood to do a full examination.
The vet team approves to release them when their bodies are in really good shape. So at least we want to see them at 85% of ideal body weight. So these guys are all very chunky and ready to go.
– [INAUDIBLE] Some final touches today. Are you going to follow them or what are you doing before you release them?
BRITAIN ATTWOOD: Yes. So, before we release, they are all given a microchip and also a pallet label. So this number is there. It’s universal, so if one day they go to a different rehab center, which we hope they don’t, but if they do fall, then any center can trace their history and find out what we’re doing here.
– Wow. And how incredible is it that they can actually be released? I mean, someone’s lung collapsed. But when they first came to the aquarium [INAUDIBLE] Is there any chance they won’t come?
BRITAIN ATTWOOD: Look, it’s always– unfortunately many of them don’t survive, which is extremely sad for the species, so we take the day to day with these guys and do our best. So it’s a great feeling to have four turtles come out at the same time. A great way to start the year.
– Yes. And in 2020, an insane number of turtles came to the aquarium. How was this?
BRITAIN ATTWOOD: Yes. It was a really busy year. 100 turtles came from our center, so the numbers were, yes, almost double last year. So yes, a huge increase. And SEA LIFE Sunny Coast has a great team. So we’re all contributing and we’re all here for these creatures, so our main goal was to get the turtles fit and healthy and get them out.
– Do you know what causes so many turtles in need of care?
BRITAIN ATTWOOD: Yeah, I think the flood– the flood event at the beginning of the year. Of course, many different centers found an increase in their numbers, and that certainly didn’t help. Soft shell syndrome, wandering around. But in general, most of the turtles we come to deal with suffer from gliding syndrome, so this is the main turtle we usually see.
– So what can people like me do — what can we do to stop something like this? Is there anything we can do?
BRITAIN ATTWOOD: Yes. That’s why we always recommend, if you are at the beach, take three for the sea. You know, if you’re there, take it. Stops getting into a turtle’s system. The other is that if you find a sick or injured sea turtle, we recommend that everyone call the stranding helpline. This number is 1300-130-EPA. And rangers there can contact a rehabilitation center like us at SEA LIFE and provide these turtles with the help and care they need.
– Did I miss something? Is that most?
BRITAIN ATTWOOD: Do not think like that. Yes.
– Yes. [INAUDIBLE] Is it a little sad to see a turtle go?
BRITAIN ATTWOOD: It’s always really bittersweet. It’s a huge win for this genre, but you get really hooked on them. Each turtle has a different personality. So yeah, they all have their little quirks, so it’s always, you know, very sad to see them go. But this is great.
BRITAIN ATTWOOD: Yes. It’s a great feeling. That’s why we always try to get as much out as we can, so yeah, again, having four in a day is this– what a great way to start the week.
– What is your hope for turtles when they come out of the beach?
BRITAIN ATTWOOD: Yes. Our hope– so there are some local colonies in the immediate vicinity of the region– so [INAUDIBLE] Island. So, hopefully, our goal is to see them go there, find a nice seagrass bed, find a good food source, and stay out of trouble with our fingers crossed, and make good turtles. live a happy life.
– And I guess this is your last day too?
BRITAIN ATTWOOD: This is my last day, so yes, it’s very, very emotional. So yeah, great road, great day.
BRITAIN ATTWOOD: Yes.
BRITAIN ATTWOOD: I know. [LAUGHS]
– How long have you been working here?
BRITAIN ATTWOOD: I’ve been here for four years. So yes, it’s very bittersweet.
– Did you count how many turtles you released during that time?
BRITAIN ATTWOOD: We would be among the hundreds we released. So yes, it’s great.
– Some of you knew what we were trying to do.
BRITAIN ATTWOOD: Good boy. So we just put the label in place. Every turtle taken care of at SEA LIFE Sunshine Coast we give them a pallet tag before they go out. So I make sure everything is ok. As you can see, it’s pretty big — they’re doing a pretty big somersault, so we want to make sure everything is okay, we only have to do it once.
OK. So I just close the eyes there to help them stay pleasant and calm throughout their journey. I still want to make sure he can breathe. But it will help Cavill stay a little calm and relaxed before we reach the ocean and release him.
BRITAIN ATTWOOD: Hello. How are you? [LAUGHS]
–car. We’ll put the tram on the left– sorry– right, next to the showers. Can you take one of the trams with Holly?
– Yes. And place?
BRITAIN ATTWOOD: I think we can go a little to the left. It’s not that busy. And here are a few among the waves.
– Like a red flag?
BRITAIN ATTWOOD: Like this [INAUDIBLE]. But yes, if you can hop into one of the cars.
– No pressure.
BRITAIN ATTWOOD: Are you just making Cav’s?
BRITAIN ATTWOOD: So yes.
– Whatever you need. I could get out of your way
BRITAIN ATTWOOD: Yes. No. Well. Do you want to go to one side– Can we have these? We’ll get everybody in [INAUDIBLE] situation.
– Will you untie it and carry it?
BRITAIN ATTWOOD: Yes, we’re going to move it down a bit. Ok. Are you quite ready? OK. Are you ready guys? Ok. Download them. Be good guys.
– Wrong way!
BRITAIN ATTWOOD: No, Jack!
– Thank you for all your training. [INAUDIBLE] and the best where ever you go. Going to an exciting place?
BRITAIN ATTWOOD: It’s really emotional. It’s so good to see these four coming home together today. That’s why we wish them only the best. And hopefully one day they’ll be there and be able to get us lots of little babies. I mean, to keep the genre going for a few more years.