Rockingham Regional Environment Centre (Naragebup) has operated its crucial turtle rescue team for nine years, saving nearly 200 turtles, but none has had quite the story of Jack the Loggerhead.
The centre rehabilitates baby turtles found on local beaches after they have been washed hundreds of kilometres down the WA coast in the strong Leeuwin current. They are released with the help of the Department of Wildlife near Shark Bay and Exmouth.
Among the seven endangered loggerhead turtles the centre has rescued this season is Jack.
Despite washing up exhausted on Waikiki beach missing a fin and more recently battling a potentially deadly infection, the most popular resident at Naragebup is making a remarkable recovery.
Readers first met the feisty Jack in August when he was barely six months old and went into the care of staff at the centre after he was found clinging to life.
Naragebup centre manager Pauline Whitehead said Jack had been recovering well but suddenly he was unable to dive, meaning he could not hunt fish or prawns and would likely starve if released.
He was taken to Perth Zoo speciality veterinary clinic, which found Jack was fighting an infection.
“He was (too) buoyant and couldn’t dive and if they can’t dive, they can't get their food,” she said.
Ms Whitehead said the infection caused air to become trapped under Jack’s shell, preventing him from diving, but after a few weeks of antibiotics he was recovering well.
“He is really loved by children who visit and they missed him when he was away,” she said.
“He is swimming and diving well with only the one flipper so when he is big and strong enough and totally free of infection, he will head back up north.”