By Greg White
Dolphin Marine Magic's conservation work saw another six 'patients' returned to their natural habit this week.
Marine specialist at the former Pet Porpoise Pool in Coffs Harbour, Jess Eggeling, supervised the release of five green sea turtles (Chelonia mydas) and one hawksbill turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata) into the ocean waters around the Solitary Islands.
The green turtles were in her care between two and 12 months for rest and rehabilitation while the hawksbill turtle had spent a year being nursed back to full health.
The hawksbill turtle, which has a distinctive parrot-like beak, is on the critically endangered species list.
Dolphin Marine Magic has been rehabilitating turtles for over 40 years and in this time has released hundreds of these majestic creatures back out into our oceans.
However, the main species that comes into care is the green sea turtle which is a species commonly found in local waters.
The facility also receives loggerhead and hawksbill sea turtles for care and even the occasional flatback sea turtle which has been swept down the coastline from northern Australia and found in need of help.
Each animal can be in care for as long as six months and will progress from the intensive care tanks, that are shallow and heated, to large pre-release tanks that are the same temperature as the ocean and have the depth and currents that are required to assess a turtles suitability for release.
During this stage the turtles are no longer receiving medication and will recommence eating a predominantly herbivorous diet, after enjoying a mixed sea food buffet while regaining their strength.
Once a turtle has been given a clean bill of health and the weather is favourable, they are transported via boat back out to sea for a second chance at life.
Normally the attempt is made to return animals to the wild in the same location from where they were rescued.
But with flatback turtles, as they are endemic to the Northern Territory and Far North Queensland, they are flown back up the coast and released into their native waters.