23 May Words for World Turtle Day
Today is World Turtle Day.
We would really like to have a celebration with our shelly friends. However, today we are going to share a sad story in the hope that it may be more beneficial in creating awareness for one of the most loved and photographed marine animals in our backyard.
Over the last 27 years our team at 1770 LARC! Tours have been involved in countless turtle rescues. Many of these tragic incidents have had happy endings. Unfortunately, one of the most recent rescues we have experienced will go down as one of the worst.
During the last nesting season a local father and son noticed a female green sea turtle laying on the 1770 sandbar. After observing this turtle for quite some time they knew that something was wrong. They came into our office at the 1770 Marina and we got on to our local Marine Stranding coordinator (Amber you legend!).
The almost 100kg turtle was picked up ferried across Round Hill Creek and then driven to the Quoin Island Turtle Rehabilitation Centre in Gladstone. 2 days later we got the call that the turtle had unfortunately passed away.
After an autopsy they concluded that she had ingested fishing line along with a hook. The fishing line had wrapped itself around the intestines of the turtle making it impossible for it to pass food and inevitably resulting in its death.
But there’s more
What makes this one of the worst incidents for us, was that a few days later we found a sea snake dead on the beach. It was also wrapped in fishing line. Attached to the line was a lure with 2 treble hooks on it. One hook was caught on its head the other latched onto its tail, the metres of fishing tackle wrapped up in the snake like a birds nest. It seemed like the snake tried its hardest to roll out of the mess it was caught in.
These incidents prompted one of our staff members to jump in the water and look around Round Hill Creek from the 1770 headland. What was found was horrifying…
Thousands of metres of fishing line floating in the tide, attached to hooks caught on rocks. The lines snapped off then forgotten. Lures larger than life and jigs made up of ridiculous 6 hook set ups. Lead sinkers strewn through patches of seagrass and squid looking fluorescent plastic lures drifting like ghosts. Most of the fishing gear found was inappropriate for the terrain and the type of fishing. Possibly some anglers oblivious to the yellow zoning rules of 1 hook 1 line at the creek entrance.
What can be done?
Fishing is one of Australia most loved activities. There are loads of tutorials and groups where you can learn what type of gear is right for the location. Eye on the Reef app has zoning that works anywhere and also explains the rules of each zone. Then there’s the locals, they know best what is above and below the water. If you are teaching the kids a great place to start is sandy bottoms or the local jetty.
If you see a sick, injured or stranded marine animal please report it.