Tiny turtle hatchlings washing up on South West beaches after winter storms

South Western Times
Bunbury Dolphin Discovery Centre conservation manager Jan Tierney with little Cecil, a loggerhead turtle hatchling rescued off the coast earlier this month.
Camera IconBunbury Dolphin Discovery Centre conservation manager Jan Tierney with little Cecil, a loggerhead turtle hatchling rescued off the coast earlier this month. Credit: Shannon Verhagen/Shannon Verhagen

An endangered loggerhead turtle hatchling stranded far from home has been given a new lease on life after being thrown out of the ocean in June’s storm swells.

Affectionately named Cecil, the tiny reptile is one of three which washed up on Mandurah and South West beaches within a week of each other earlier this month.

Weighing in at just 50 grams, he was no heavier than a small chicken egg and is the tiniest hatchling Bunbury’s Dolphin Discovery Centre has ever cared for.

Arriving in “really good” condition after being found at Mandurah’s Pyramids Beach on July 1, conservation manager Jan Tierney said Cecil was already making great progress, his healthy appetite leading to a 12g weight gain.

“You can see that something’s tried to make a meal out of him,” she said. “He’s got a couple of little nicks — one out of his front flipper and part of his back flipper is bitten off — but he’s fine.”

He’s doing really well, he’s not floating too much and he’s already starting to dive a little bit.

Jan Tierney

Each winter, the centre takes in several hatchlings stranded along the coast after being thrown out of the Leeuwin Current, rehabilitating them to be ready for release back in the warm waters of the Pilbara.

Bunbury Dolphin Discovery Centre conservation manager Jan Tierney with little Cecil, a loggerhead turtle hatchling rescued off the coast last week.
Camera IconBunbury Dolphin Discovery Centre conservation manager Jan Tierney with little Cecil, a loggerhead turtle hatchling rescued off the coast last week. Credit: Shannon Verhagen

In March, 11 of the hatchlings — four of which were looked after in Bunbury — rescued last year were released at Ningaloo. Four of them were looked after in Bunbury.

Only one in one thousand survives from hatching to adulthood, so everyone we can save represents a thousand of the species if we can get them back out there.

Jan Tierney

One of the other hatchlings — which was found with two flippers bitten off — has been sent to the Perth Zoo for care, while the third, which washed up at Binningup, sadly did not make it.

Anticipating more turtle hatchlings to be found in the coming months, Ms Tierney said anyone who found one should wrap them in a towel and take them to the centre or vet.

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