A 50 kilogram Flatback turtle rehabilitated at Charles Darwin University’s Aquaculture Centre will be released into the wild today, fitted with a satellite transmitter to monitor its progress.
The turtle was given its new lease on life with the help of the ARK Animal Hospital Veterinarian Steve Cutter, and will be released by Department of Land and Resource Management Marine Wildlife Officer Ray Chatto on the high tide at Lee Point today (Friday Dec 7).
A concerned member of the public rescued the large Flatback turtle, thought to be more than 20 years old, from Cape Hotham in September where it was found “floating”, a term where a build-up of air or gas prevents the animal from diving down to feed.
CDU Aquaculture technician Kathy Kellam said the Flatback was one of several turtles being rehabilitated at CDU’s Aquaculture facility.
“The turtles rescued are diagnosed and treated by staff at the ARK Animal Hospital before being moved to big saltwater tanks at CDU for rehabilitation,” Ms Kellam said.
“The large saltwater tanks at our facility enable the turtles to readjust to the saltwater environment, assisting with final recovery and improve their condition to get them ready for release. In this case the turtle is able to sink to the bottom of the tank to feed and ready for release.”
To check the turtle’s progress, a satellite transmitter will be fitted to it by a marine biodiversity Research Fellow working with the North Australian Marine Research Alliance Kiki Dethmers. The transmitter will provide valuable data to contribute towards conservation efforts.
“Other than identifying their migratory pathways, satellite telemetry also helps to identify where particular individual turtles like to spend most of their time looking for food,” she said.
“In the future it could help us predict potential hotspot areas for ghost-net turtle interaction in the Arafura and Timor Seas and will significantly contribute to management that is focused on reducing detrimental impacts on Australasian sea turtle populations.”
Members of the public will be able to follow the rehabilitated turtle’s progress by visiting the link: http://www.seaturtle.org/tracking/?project_id=802&dyn=1354801813