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May 8, 2021

Two sea turtles to taste freedom at Byron tomorrow

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Thurston will be released tomorrow. (supplied)

Two Green Sea Turtles that have been in care at the Australian Seabird Rescue facility in Ballina will be released tomorrow at Byron Bay.

The turtles, Thurston and Will Smith, were rescued within a day of each other in mid October, and after careful care, are now ready to be returned to the ocean.

Australian Seabird Rescue general manager Kathrina Southwell Thurston was stranded at South Golden Beach, covered in barnacles, and auffering from float syndrome which can be caused by plastic ingestion, stress or internal infections.

‘His skin was very pink for a Green sea turtle which can be an indication of septicemia,’ she said.

‘On Thurston’s second day in care he ate a very small amount of red seaweed, then the next day he ate some squid.

‘After a week of antibiotics and worming treatment, his float dissipated and he is now eating close to 700 grams of a variety of seafood every day.’

Ms Southwell said Thurston was an interesting rescue as he had one tag on his left front flipper.

‘We discovered that he had been caught in a shark net on the Gold Coast in November last year. He had been released and tagged as part of the Queensland shark control program,’ she said.

‘We have tagged his right front flipper so if he ever strands again, people will know that he has been rehabilitated by Australian Seabird Rescue’s Ballina Byron Sea Turtle Hospital.’

Will Smith the turtle will be released on Thursday. (supplied)

Ms Southwell said the second turtle, Will Smith, was stranded at Casuarina Beach on the 19th October.

‘He had 80 per cent barnacle cover on his skin and only a few barnacles on his carapace,’ she said.

‘Will was very lethargic and started eating five days after his admission.

‘Will has recovered quite quickly and is looking extremely healthy. He has been the boss of our pre-release tank, always trying to steal food from the other four turtles that are housed there until they are ready for release.

Ms Southwell said once the two turtles were released, Australian Seabird Rescue would still have seven turtles in care.

‘It has been costing us close to $500 per week to keep these turtles fed and our veterinary expenses have been adding up too.

‘We are a not for profit organisation that relies on support from the community through donations.’

Anyone wanting to donate to Australian Seabird Rescue, should use the ‘donate now’ button on the website seabirdrescue.org, or the soon to be launched new website www.seabirdrescue.org.au

The two turtles will be released at Byron’s Main Beach at 9.30am on Thursday.


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