Trio of tur­tles get lo­cal help

Sea tur­tles get air-lifted back to the wa­ter

Whitsunday Times - - NEWS - Clau­dia Alp clau­dia.alp@whit­sun­day­

A CANNONVALE fam­ily kicked into gear to spear­head a rather un­usual res­cue mis­sion when they spot­ted three large tur­tles on Cannonvale Beach on Satur­day af­ter­noon.

Leianne and Dwaine Reha and chil­dren Alana, 8, and Mar­cus, 6, were on a fam­ily out­ing when they sighted what ap­peared to be large rocks on the beach that hadn’t been there be­fore.

On closer in­spec­tion, they re­alised the rocks were in fact sea tur­tles who had been left by the out­go­ing tide to bask along the beach ap­prox­i­mately 150m from the wa­ter.

Mrs Reha said the largest tur­tle had sunk so far into the heavy sand that it couldn’t move it­self out, so the fam­ily snapped into ac­tion.

Mr Reha, Alana and Mar­cus stayed with the tur­tles while Mrs Reha ran, de­spite bro­ken screws in her back fol­low­ing ma­jor surgery six years ago, to find help. The Reha fam­ily en­gaged the as­sis­tance of staff from Fat Frog Cafe and lo­cal passers-by to guide two of the tur­tles back to the wa­ter.

The third and largest tur­tle had to be dug out by Mr Reha then hoisted by a team of six, who used a blan­ket un­der the belly, to lift the tur­tle into a pool of shal­low wa­ter un­til the tide came in.

Mrs Reha said she didn’t stop to con­sider her back, she just ran.

“I wasn’t go­ing to leave those crea­tures for any longer than I had to. They were there for prob­a­bly an hour be­fore we got there,” she said.

“At that mo­ment in time, we just thought ‘we’ve got to get them out and back in the wa­ter’.”

Founder chair of Eco Barge Clean Seas Inc Libby Edge iden­ti­fied the tur­tles as bask­ing green sea tur­tles, and said this was nor­mal be­hav­iour for this time of year due to lower wa­ter tem­per­a­tures. How­ever she praised the lo­cals who got in­volved and nursed them.

“I love that the fam­ily and the com­mu­nity gave so much love and con­cern to those tur­tles. I’m re­ally proud. They did a great job.” Ms Edge said.

“If any­one’s in doubt, or thinks a tur­tle could be sick or in­jured, they should call 1300 AN­I­MAL (1300 264 625) and we can talk them through what to do.”

Ms Edge said bar­na­cles or al­gae can be a sign of a sick or in­jured sea tur­tle, but when bask­ing, their eyes ap­pear to be cry­ing which al­lows them to re­tain mois­ture.

Mrs Reha ex­pressed her grat­i­tude to the Fat Frog Cafe staff and com­mu­nity lo­cals who as­sisted to carry the largest tur­tle back to the wa­ter and nurse it.

“I’m re­ally grate­ful that they came out to as­sist us,” she said.

“When the tide came in we had to get up on the rocks near the Cannonvale man­groves other­wise we would have been stranded, but we stayed un­til we saw the tur­tle swim­ming away and waited ’til it took a few breaths.

“It doesn’t mat­ter what peo­ple might say, whether they think we did the wrong thing or not.

“It’s not in me to keep walk­ing by and let some­one else deal with it.

“You don’t know how long it would have taken for help to come by if they were de­hy­drat­ing.”

A team of six had to hoist the tur­tle back into shal­low wa­ter to await high tide.

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