Sea Life Sunshine Coast has successfully hand-reared and released three juvenile Flatback turtles, as part of a world-first marine conservation program.
The three turtles, which average 1500 grams in weight and 24 centimetres in length have been on display at the Sunshine Coast attraction since February last year and have been serving as ambassadors for the endangered species.
In partnership with the Department of Environmental Heritage Protection (DEHP) and Queensland Museum, the program is currently in its second year and sees turtles from Mon Repos hand-reared by Sea Life staff.
In addition to helping bolster wild population numbers, the aim of the program is to collect crucial information about the patterns and movements of Flatback turtles once in the wild. Each turtle has been fitted with a miniature PIT tag for identification purposes.
Sea Life Sunshine Coast Displays Supervisor, Denice Askebrink, said it is a very rewarding to reach this point in such a unique program, commenting: “Although we are sad to see the turtles go after looking after them for the last 11 months, it’s exciting to see them released back into the wild where we hope they will breed and increase population numbers.”
“Our aim as an organisation is to support Australian marine life through dedicated breeding, rescuing and protecting efforts. These three turtles have been acting as ambassadors for their wild counterparts and we’ve gained so much and educated hundreds of guests including students and international families alike on the important place turtles have in the wild.”
Through daily talks and the attraction’s Ocean Ranger program, Sea Life Sunshine has been shining a light on the plight of turtles and educating the public on ways they can positively contribute to their survival, by choosing to reuse and disposing of rubbish thoughtfully.
Throughout 2018, in addition to the attraction’s existing marine rescue initiatives, Sea Life Sunshine Coast will continue to be involved in this program in an effort to help providing positive support to one of Australia’s most iconic species.
On Saturday 3 February, Sea Life Sunshine Coast in conjunction with Sunshine Coast council and other community groups, will be hosting a ‘Clean Up for the Hatchlings’ beach clean from Caloundra to Coolum. Locals are invited to come along with sun-safe clothing and cleaning gloves to help rid our coastlines of rubbish and debris in a bid to reduce the plastic in our oceans. Register online at www.event.sunshinecoast.qld.gov.au.