Monday 4th July, 2011. I returned to the Whitsundays for two weeks work as there has been nothing happening in Sydney. On my second trip on Whitsunday Adventurer, I was bring the trip home across the Whitsunday Passage when I saw a turtle on the surface. The passengers had been so keen to see a turtle so I screamed out in excitement pointing it out. It was not long after that I noticed it wasn’t breathing.
I immediately felt gutted. We had a 16 y.o on board who had never seen a turtle before, his first sighting was a dead one.
It was a Green Turtle, approximately 15 years old. Apart from a small cut on it’s neck, there was no obvious sign of why the turtle had died. I rang Marine Parks and Jaye met me when we got in. She is a turtle expert recently moved to the Whitsundays from Bundaberg. She assumes the cut was done after death.
Her first thoughts where that the neck was elongated and also noted the bottom area was enlarged as though it was trying to pass something that it couldn’t. I provided all the details and Jaye has gone away to investigate more.
The unfortunate thing is that she also said they would not dissect the animal as it was a Green Turtle. They are not so worried about them. I found this strange as they may not be endangered now, but if we keep going and having them swallow foreign objects, they may in the future. Prevention is better than a cure so why not investigate a bit more and find out the cause rather than make a few observations and then cast it aside.
Our animals need our help, this has been proven once again today. At least there are 12 more people who have now witnessed first hand the damage that we are doing to our turtles. They asked a lot of questions about our campaign and I know they will go away with a new found energy to change their habits.
It’s just a shame that we have to see the damage before we find a solution.
I have now found 8 turtles dead throughout my career.
2 drowned in Crab pots
2 hit by boats
2 by plastic bag