Tur­tles go free as crowd watches

The Northern Star - - NEWS -

WORD spread quickly along Main Beach at By­ron Bay yes­ter­day morn­ing that two sea tur­tles were be­ing read­ied for re­lease back into the wild.

By the time the ded­i­cated vol­un­teers from Australian Se­abird Res­cue had walked their del­i­cate cargo in carry bags down to the sand, more than 200 peo­ple had gath­ered to wit­ness the mo­ment.

On­look­ers formed a guard of hon­our for the tur­tles as they were walked gen­tly down to the waves and re­leased.

A cheer erupted as they pad­dled out to sea with gusto.

The two tur­tles, Yeezy and Clooney, were both ex­tremely sick when they were res­cued by lo­cals two months ago.

Yeezy, a green sea tur­tle, was suf­fer­ing from “float” and was cov­ered in bar­na­cles when he washed up on Novem­ber 14 near the af­ter­noon drum­ming circle at Main Beach.

He also had gashes from be­ing thrown on to rocks dur­ing his or­deal.

Thanks to sev­eral weeks of med­i­ca­tion and in­ten­sive care cour­tesy of vol­un­teers at the Bal­lina By­ron Sea Tur­tle Hos­pi­tal, the lit­tle guy was cured of his float, a usu­ally fa­tal con­di­tion caused by the in­ges­tion of plas­tic, and given daily doses of sun­shine to re­cu­per­ate.

Mean­while, Clooney was res­cued by a fish­er­man off Brunswick Head’s south wall at 4am on Novem­ber 18.

He was cov­ered in leeches and look­ing ex­tremely sick.

ASR gen­eral man­ager Kath South­well said Clooney quickly had all of his leeches re­moved and was placed on an­tibi­otics and wormed.

“By his sec­ond week at the tur­tle hos­pi­tal, he started eat­ing small amounts of food but it wasn’t un­til we gave him some red seaweed af­ter a few weeks in care that his con­di­tion im­proved dra­mat­i­cally,” Ms South­well said.

ASR is run­ning school hol­i­day tours ev­ery week­day at 10am to show peo­ple the tur­tles it has in its care and ed­u­cate peo­ple about re­spon­si­ble fish­ing prac­tices.

Tours cost $7 per per­son with all money go­ing to­ward the non-profit or­gan­i­sa­tion’s con­tin­ued work to res­cue and re­ha­bil­i­tate sea tur­tles and seabirds res­cued from the Tweed to the Clarence rivers.

PHOTO: HAMISH BROOME

MAIN BEACH: Big crowd waits to see the re­lease of the sea tur­tles.

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