The ropes had applied a stricture to one of the turtle’s arms causing the flipper to come away from the body leaving just a bony stump. There were many ropes, some around the turtle’s neck. They were very tight and the job of cutting them off wasn’t easy, but eventually they were removed and the turtle swam away. Had we not intervened, it would certainly have died.
Moreton Bay Marine Park is one of the few places in the world where large populations of turtles are found so close to a capital city. All but one of the world's seven turtle species have been found here. The marine park has at least five year round resident turtle species: Green, Loggerhead, Pacific Ridley, Flatback and Hawksbill. Moreton Bay has one of the most important feeding areas for loggerhead turtles along the east coast of Australia. Loggerhead turtles are listed as endangered under the Nature Conservation Act 1992.
Sea turtles have covered vast distances across the world’s oceans for more than 100 million years and they fill a vital role in the balance of marine habitats. But most species of marine turtles are now classified as ‘endangered’ because human activities have tipped the scales against the survival of these ancient mariners. They regularly become entangled in discarded fishing gear, get struck by boats and die from ingesting plastics preventing them from diving. In the period 2010-2014, almost 6,000 marine turtles were found stranded – dead or dying – on the beaches of Queensland.
Turtles can mistake garbage as fool – especially plastic bags, balloons, polystyrene and cigarette butts – which all look like jellyfish to a turtle. It is also worth remembering that the chemicals we flush down our toilets, apply to our gardens, wash our cars with, spray on crops or use in factories can end up in our waterways and ultimately the ocean.
So, if you see rubbish on our beaches – especially plastics – pick it up. It’s not only good aesthetically, it protects our valuable wildlife. And be careful how we dispose of chemicals. If you see injured or sick wildlife, contact the RSPCA Call Centre on 1300 ANIMAL (1300 264 625).