Mu­ti­lated turtle saved by tourist

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - NEWS - SAM SMALLBONE

HUNTED, speared and left to die.

A tourist who trav­elled across the coun­try to see the re­gion’s nat­u­ral beauty and wildlife wit­nessed a young sea turtle, ly­ing on the beach, speared through the shell, and left to die.

Ade­laide ve­teri­nary nurse Lara Danger­field was hol­i­day­ing in Port Dou­glas to es­cape the cold south­ern weather when she wit­nessed the an­i­mal suf­fer­ing at Wonga Beach last week.

“I was look­ing for­ward to get­ting up close and per­sonal with some new crea­tures on my hol­i­day,” Ms Danger­field said.

“I was not dis­ap­pointed - I had a won­der­ful ex­pe­ri­ence snorkelling at Low Isles with so many friendly sea tur­tles al­low­ing me a close-up view of them feed­ing in the shal­lows.

“That very day though, I had a rather dif­fer­ent view of these el­e­gant sea crea­tures while walk­ing along Wonga Beach.

“There, ly­ing nearly dead above the water­line was a young sea turtle, ema­ci­ated, hot and de­hy­drated with a spear hole in its shell.

“I moved it into the wa­ter to cool it off, but it was far too weak to swim or even keep its head above wa­ter to take a breath.”

In an at­tempt to save the an­i­mal and end its suf­fer­ing, she car­ried it to a shady area un­der a tree and ran to get help.

” Some tourists from the Pin­na­cle Vil­lage Car­a­van Park had en­coun­tered the same turtle over sev­eral days,” Ms Danger­field said.

“They said the Na­tional Parks had been phoned, but no­body had come to get it.”

Ms Danger­field searched on­line and came across the Cairns Turtle Re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion Cen­tre.

the in­jured turtle’s punc­ture wound

“I spoke with Dr Jen­nie Gil­bert who ad­vised me to keep the turtle cool and quiet and cov­ered with a wet towel, un­til we could or­gan­ise for it to be taken to Mar­lin Coast Ve­teri­nary hos­pi­tal for treat­ment,” she said.

“It sur­vived the night and was in the new vet hos­pi­tal at Trin­ity Beach by next morn­ing.

“It was re­hy­drated with a drip and given an­tibi­otics and then moved to the Turtle Re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion Cen­tre.

“Be­fore I boarded my plane home I man­aged to see my lit­tle turtle swim­ming hap­pily in its shal­low salt­wa­ter pool at the Re­hab Cen­tre. It still has some way to go but at least I know it has a good chance now.

“I left the re­gion feel­ing very con­cerned for the safety of these mis­placed vic­tims of Cy­clone Yasi.

“It seems that many from pro­tected ar­eas are now go­ing to be hunted when they come north. It doesn’t look as if they are be­ing of­fered much of a sanc­tu­ary in the Dain­tree area.”

Ev­ery­one can help save sea tur­tles by keep­ing an eye out for in­jured or stranded an­i­mals on beaches and con­tact­ing the Cairns Turtle Re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion Cen­tre on 0417 441 956.

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