Lost turtles returned home to Ningaloo

Kate FieldingPilbara News
Wildlife volenteer Robyn Bickell pictured with Cleopatra the one flippered loggerhead turtle she rescued off a south west beach. Cleo along with 21 other rescue loggerheads will be relocated to Exmouth today .
Camera IconWildlife volenteer Robyn Bickell pictured with Cleopatra the one flippered loggerhead turtle she rescued off a south west beach. Cleo along with 21 other rescue loggerheads will be relocated to Exmouth today . Credit: Steve Ferrier The West Australian.

Twenty-one loggerhead turtles have returned home after washing ashore during storms along the South West coast over the past 18 months.

The juvenile turtles were flown from Perth to Exmouth on Thursday to be released in the Ningaloo Marine Park near Exmouth.

Parks and Wildlife Service wildlife officer Cameron Craigie said the turtles had received medical care at Perth Zoo and were rehabilitated at AQWA and the Bunbury Dolphin Discovery Centre.

“These young turtles normally wouldn’t come ashore for several decades until they are ready to breed, but thanks to the exceptional care provided to them, and the support of Qantas Freight, they will now be able to return to the sea,” he said.

Mr Craigie said little was known about loggerhead turtles between their hatching and settling in coastal waters as adults.

Last year 16 turtles were released after a stint at Bunbury’s Dolphin Discovery Centre, some of which were fitted with tracking devices to better understand the lost years.

Aquarist Jan Tierney said tracking results showed the majority had set off towards South Africa.

“The fact they’re swimming over 9000km away, that’s huge,” she said.

“We’ve been rehabilitating these guys for years and years, but prior to them being fitted with satellite trackers, we didn’t know whether they lasted 24 hours out there.

“This lets us know that the work we’re doing is worthwhile.”

The latest group to be released will be micro-chipped and ID tagged so future sightings of them can be recorded.

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