Mutilated turtle saved by tourist
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.