Di goes home, for good

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - FRONT PAGE - Shane Ni­chols

ALL tur­tles are dif­fer­ent. And so it is with Di, the green sea turtle that the Cairns Turtle Re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion Cen­tre re­leased back into the sea at Low Isles last Fri­day.

Jen­nie Gil­bert, the CTRC’s co-founder who over­saw the event, warned daytrip­pers, me­dia peo­ple and oth­ers that Di was a bit skit­tish as tur­tles go and needed plenty of space when it came for her re­lease into the wa­ter.

More than that, she was a re­peat cus­tomer, hav­ing al­ready been re­leased once be­fore but re­turn­ing to shore some months ago for another stint of re­hab.

It was hoped this time she’d get the hang of it and the con­fi­dence to hit the wa­ter and keep go­ing.

She hit the wa­ter like a tor­pedo and turned tightly back to shore, me man­ag­ing to re­verse my­self out of the wa­ter and out of her way just in time. I had a feel­ing she’d do that. But with a bit more coax­ing the ju­ve­nile turtle (10-12 years old) made it out to sea, much to the relief and hopes of her helpers.

Di had orig­i­nally been found skinny and weak at Port Dou­glas about 18 months ago be­fore she was taken into care by CTRC, which at the mo­ment is look­ing af­ter around tur­tles.

She is named af­ter Di Hors­burgh, a pas­sion­ate con­ser­va­tion­ist up in the Table­lands who died this year. One of her last wishes to Ms gil­bert was ‘‘please name a turtle af­ter me’’.

Ms Gil­bert says re­cent years have seen an 600 per cent in­crease in turtle strand­ings in the Cairns re­gion due to the im­pact of poor wet sea­sons and events such as Cy­clone Yasi which have de­stroyed much of the tur­tles’ sea­grass pas­tures.

‘‘We re­leased her at Trin­ity Beach about six months ago but she wasn’t ready to go,’’ say Ms Gil­bert, ‘‘so we picked her up.

‘‘To­day you could see she was ap­pre­hen­sive when she first went out there. She stuck by the shore a lit­tle bit, but as you could see, when she went she cer­tainly went. She’s out in deep wa­ter now and we haven’t seen her any­more.’’

Pic­ture: BRUCE GER­BER

RE­LEASED: Di, the green sea turtle, re­leased by Jen­nie Gil­bert and Tim Faulkner

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