By Annie Sanson
More endangered saltwater turtles are fighting for their lives at a Darwin animal hospital, only days after two turtles - believed to be up to 100 years old - were found sick and starving in Top End waters.
ARK animal hospital wildlife manager Tess Cooper said it was "heartbreaking" to come across four age-old turtles close to death in only three weeks.
"While it is really sad to see the animals suffering, it is really inspiring to see that people care and make an effort to help our endangered wildlife by rescuing turtles," she said.
Ms Cooper said the turtles' floaters disease was caused by infection or swallowed plastic bags.
"The poor things just can't dive for food any more - if nobody helps them they starve to death."
The wildlife carer said a flatback turtle, a green turtle, a hawksbill turtle and a huge 65kg olive ridley turtle were "in for long treatment".
"As they are reptiles everything goes much slower and what takes mammals four weeks to heal takes up to five or six months for reptiles," Ms Cooper said.
Ms Cooper said the animal hospital was bursting at the seams for appropriate turtle housing - including tanks and filters - and was running short on medication.
"While healthy animals can fight off infections much easier, these guys are so sick that we don't only have to rehydrate them and feed them through a tube, we also have to treat them for parasites and they need lots of really strong antibiotics."
While animal owners were billed for their pets' treatment at pet clinics, the hospital's wildlife relied on community support and donations, Ms Cooper said.
"These rare creatures have gone through so much, we have to make their stay at the hospital as comfortable as possible.
"To survive they need all the community support they can get."
To report an injured turtle in the Territory ring the turtle hotline on 1800 453 941.