World of discovery awaits turtles

Kate FieldingSouth Western Times
Dolphin Discovery Centre volunteer Angie Hooper, aquarist Jan Tierney and volunteer Bob Stark get ready to release Ashton, Donny and Hannah back into the ocean.
Camera IconDolphin Discovery Centre volunteer Angie Hooper, aquarist Jan Tierney and volunteer Bob Stark get ready to release Ashton, Donny and Hannah back into the ocean. Credit: Kate Fielding / South Western Times

Proof that turtles which have spent time rehabilitating at Dolphin Discovery Centre are travelling thousands of kilometres in the big blue, has wildlife workers excited about the next release.

Another 14 loggerhead turtles are due to be released back into their natural habitat after spending time rehabilitating at the centre.

The endangered creatures are renowned for washing up on South West beaches with storms pushing them out of the Leeuwin Current.

One of the loggerhead turtles at Dolphin Discovery Centre.
Camera IconOne of the loggerhead turtles at Dolphin Discovery Centre. Credit: Kate Fielding / South Western Times

Last year, 16 of the popular creatures were released after a stint at the centre and some were fitted with satellite tracking devices.

Aquarist Jan Tierney said tracking results showed the majority were doing “exactly what we wanted them to do” and had set off towards South Africa.

“The fact they’re swimming over 9000km away, that’s huge,” Mrs Tierney said.

“We’ve been rehabilitating these guys for years and years, but prior to them being fitted with satellite trackers, we didn’t know whether they lasted 24 hours out there. So this lets us know that the work we’re doing is worthwhile.”

One of the loggerhead turtles at Dolphin Discovery Centre.
Camera IconOne of the loggerhead turtles at Dolphin Discovery Centre. Credit: Kate Fielding / South Western Times

Some decided to check out the region before getting back on the right track.

“Some just did their own thing like Peter Garret, he went to Esperance – of course it was Peter Garret doing his own thing,” Mrs Tierney said.

“Some have hitched a ride on the right current and done what we want, some checked out down south.”

The latest group to be released includes three turtles who were not ready with last year’s bale, with the biggest more than 12kg.

The little creatures wash up at about 58g.

After having to delay their release because of cyclone Veronica, the turtles will be flown to Exmouth today before being released tomorrow.

The turtles will not be fitted with satellite trackers this year, but Mrs Tierney hopes funding will be secured to make it happen next year.

“Next year, we’ll make sure we get crowd funding,” she said.

“It’s really important for us to know where they go and what they do.

“It gives us a bit of a snapshot of what is called the lost years.”

The rehabilitation program is done under licence from the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions’ Parks and Wildlife Service.

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