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Wayward rescued sea turtles released off Exmouth

Wildlife officer Cameron Craigie with one of the loggerhead turtles.
Wildlife officer Cameron Craigie with one of the loggerhead turtles.

Twenty-one juvenile loggerhead turtles that washed ashore along the south-west coast will today be flown from Perth to Exmouth to be released into Ningaloo Marine Park.

The release is part of a joint effort by the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions (DBCA), the community and rehabilitation centres to help conserve the critically endangered species, with only an estimated 1500 to 2000 females known to nest annually in WA.

The juvenile turtles drifted ashore during storms over the past 18 months after travelling southwards in the Leeuwin current, and were reported to DBCA by community members.

DBCA Parks and Wildlife Service wildlife officer Cameron Craigie said the turtles had received intensive medical care at Perth Zoo before being rehabilitated at AQWA and the Bunbury Dolphin Discovery Centre.

“These young turtles normally wouldn’t come ashore for several decades until they are ready to breed, but thanks to the exceptional care provided to them, and the support of Qantas Freight, they will now be able to return to the sea and hopefully become mature breeding adults,” he said.

Mr Craigie said little was known about the movement and behaviour of loggerhead turtles between their hatching and settling in coastal waters as adults, with this life stage known as the ‘lost years.’

“Last year we released satellite-tagged loggerhead turtles off Exmouth, and the tracking has given us some exciting insights, with at least one of the turtles having ventured as far as waters south of Madagascar, more than 6000km from its release location,” he said.

“This year, DBCA marine scientists will be micro-chipping and attaching ID tags to the turtles, so future sightings of them can be recorded to contribute to our growing knowledge of this fascinating species.”

DBCA Parks and Wildlife Service staff, supported by the Ningaloo Turtle Program, will release the turtles tomorrow out to sea in Ningaloo Marine Park.

“The rescue, rehabilitation, transport and release of the turtles wouldn’t be possible without the efforts of the public and many organisations and community groups working in partnership with DBCA,” Mr Craigie said.

DBCA extends its thanks to Qantas Freight for generously flying the turtles to Exmouth free of charge. Up-to-date satellite tracking information of turtles released last year can be viewed at

Last modified on Friday, 05 April 2019 13:21