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Visit the Turtle Rehabilitation Centre
MEET THE TURTLES
You may find yourself asking, why would turtles need rehabilitation? Truth be told it’s not just for the rich & famous and our talks at the Cairns Turtle Rehabilitaion Centre allow people to learn about not only the history of the organisation but also the journey to recovery that injured or sick turtles undergo whilst at this Centre, prior to their release back into the ocean.
Cairns Turtle Rehabilitation Centre on Fitzroy Island (CTRC) is a volunteer operated, non-profit organisation dedicated to the rehabilitation of sick and injured turtles. The Great Barrier Reef is home to six of the world’s seven species of marine turtles. A number of these are seriously threatened by a diverse range of natural and, more significantly, human induced factors.
How to book a Visit to the Turtle Rehab Centre
Update 4th April 2023: Our Turtles are taking a well deserved rest. Tours are suspended until further notice – we apologise for any inconvenience caused.
Talks run Tuesday-Sunday at 1.00 pm and are 30 minutes in duration. A maximum of 15 guests, accompanied by a tour guide.
Cost: $12.00 Adult, $7.50 Child (4-13 years), infants free of charge
Children 12 years and under must be accompanied by an Adult.
Currently, the Turtle Talks are for Resort Guests only, and can be booked at Reception.
Guests must meet at the Turtle Rehabilitation Centre 5 minutes before the talk start time and present their booking confirmation.
Advanced bookings are essential.
CAIRNS TURTLE REHABILITATION CENTRE
CTRC supports the work of all organisations, individuals and agencies in their efforts to conserve sea turtles and the habitats that they live in. They work closely with a number of these groups including the environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and EPA National Park Rangers who are responsible for bringing the turtles to the centre.
CTRC relies on the generous donations from supporters and volunteers, without whom, would be unable to continue this important work. Fitzroy Island Resort is one such proud sponsor who have supplied full use of their land, infrastructure, materials and equipment, utilities, transfers and man power from its initial construction phase through to the current day-to-day operations. Fitzroy Island Resort has been assisting in the implementation of our Turtle talks at the Centre meaning they can now be booked for a small fee that contributes towards the Centres’ mission (tours run Tuesday-Sunday).
Visit Cairns Turtle Rehab Website
CRTC Turtle Releases 2018-2020 from Stuart Ireland on Vimeo.
MEET OUR PATIENTS
Shaz the Green Sea Turtle
Shaz came up to CTRC in June 2018 after having spent some time in Innisfail and Mission Beach Centers. She was found with orange nylon wrapped around her. It was wrapped around her shell for a long period of time that it cause a deformity in her growth. Due to that she suffers from floating syndrome.
Despite her trauma, Shaz is a very cheerful sea turtle. She is one of the few that still loves her green vegetables!
Portia the Green Sea Turtle
Portia was found in Port Douglas suffering from floaters syndrome in late 2018. She is a gorgeous Green Sea Turtle who was in distress when she came here and had no appetite. With the wonderful effort of the volunteers, Portia has started eating regularly! Thankfully we are one step closer to curing her floaters syndrome.
Shelby the Green Sea Turtle
Shelby is a Green Sea Turtle that has suffered blunt force trauma to her rear end rendering her back flippers paralysed. She was brought out of intensive care in July 2018. The main focus for Shelby now is to stop floating and strengthen her fore flippers. She is extremely shy and prefers to keep to herself.’ Shelby’s recovery is kindly sponsored by Sheldon Realty, thank you for your generosity!
Leilah the Green Sea Turtle
Though it’s not the usual time for Green Sea Turtle hatchlings, Leilah was washed ashore in the Cape York mid-2017. Leila was just a week old and had ingested micro plastics, causing an intestinal blockage, floaters syndrome and starvation as result. Research has found that keeping hatchlings until their carapace is the size of a dinner plate automatically doubles their chances of surviving adulthood, so we will have Leilah for a while yet.
Lou the Olive Ridley Sea Turtle – released October 2020
Lou is an adult male Olive Ridley who was caught in a ‘ghost net’. The poor boy has lost two flippers- one on each side. Fortunately for Lou they were on opposite sides of his body so he is still able to swim.
Lou has a can-do attitude and is just plain lovable although you have to keep an eye on him because he is the Centre’s number one culprit for trying to bite volunteers – even those he likes. He adores getting his carapace scrubbed- but you do have to watch his beak closely as he will regularly try to bite the scrubbing brush and whoever’s fingers are holding it at the time!
After a long journey by plane and 4-wheel drive, Lou was released on the 28th October 2020 in his home waters of Cape York! Good luck Lou, we will miss you.
Kara the Green Sea Turtle – released September 2020
Kara was found stuck in mud near Four Mile Beach in Port Douglas. Kara’s whole body was covered in barnacles and she was in very weak condition. She was brought to the Cairns Aquarium for an intensive treatment in April 2019.
Kara was then transferred to Fitzroy Island for her last leg of rehabilitation and has been recovering amazingly well! Today, she is among the favourites in the centre and is loving every minute in front of the camera!
Kara was released on Four Mile Beach in Port Douglas on the 5th of September 2020. The sun was shining and there was a big crowd to farewell this gorgeous turtle.
Julz the Juvenile Green Sea Turtle – released August 2020
Julz was sadly a victim of illegal hunting and was found off the coast of Green Island in Tropical North Queensland. Julz is a very shy and timid sea turtle but is a bottomless pit when it comes to prawns – her favourite meal!
Julz was released on 14th August on Hastings Reef and is now back in her natural habitat. Good luck Julz!
Francis the Green Sea Turtle – released October 2018
Francis was known as the miracle turtle. This tiny 15 year old was one of the worst cases of starvation the Centre has ever treated. After 16 months of intensive treatment Francis was finally well enough to be transferred out of the intensive care unit. She joined Jet in the front tank in July 2018 and was a hot contender for the crowds’ favourite during the turtle tours.
Francis was released at Moore Reef in October 2018 and we look forward to tracking her progress.
Donatello the Hatchling
Donatello has been in care since he was a day old (summer 2018). He was fortunate to wash ashore before a predator took him. His facial deformaties make life as a youngster a little tough for him; he has one eye and a mishapen head which puts his jaw out of alignment. Donatello was so fragile when first rescued that he spent the majority of his first year in specialist care. He was brought into the Centre for the first time in September 2018 where he has quickly won the hearts of all the volunteers with his quirky antics. Due to Donatello’s health, he has been transferred to the JCU facility in Cairns for closer inspection. Once Donatello starts to get better we might see him again at the Fitzroy Island Rehabilitation Centre!
Yuko the Green Sea Turtle – released October 2018
Yuko is a sub-adult green sea turtle who was caught entangled in the fishing line. Due the damage she have on the left flipper, it was amputated by the vet. She was found in Bowen and came on the centre August 2018.
Margaret the Green Sea Turtle – released October 2018
Margaret was found by the crew of Cairns Dive Centre in January 2015 floating half-way between Fitzroy Island and Cairns. Margaret had eaten plastic bags and had been floating for nearly 12 months by the time she was discovered. Margaret is over 80 years old and 1.1m in length, it took 8 people to lift her on the boat!
She was extremely weak, emaciated and she had pneumonia. Margaret made a full recovery and was released off the shores of Fitzroy Island on the 9th October 2018. Read more about her release here.
Jet the Juvenile Green Sea Turtle – Released September 2018
Jet is a juvenile green sea turtle that was reported floating near Fitzroy Island at the start of July 2017. Thanks to a number of organisations on keeping an eye out for her, Jet was rescued and brought into the Centre where she underwent treatment for floaters syndrome which caused severe emaciation. Jet had a long journey but made a full recovery and was released with Dive Down Under at Norman Reef on the Great Barrier Reef.
Woodson – Released December 2017
Juvenile Woodson washed up in 2015 suffering from floaters syndrome and starvation. At first we thought that his unusual facial features was the result of a terrible blow to the head but after closer inspection it appeared to be a deformation that occurred while he was still developing inside the egg.
It means that he has one working eye but this sprightly little fella has not let it hold him back. Following his release Woodson swam for two months straight and ended up in Bowen.
Twiggy the Hawksbill Turtle – Released June 2018
Twiggy washed ashore in Cape York in October 2016. The critically endangered Hawksbill was suffering from severe starvation- she was so emaciated that the volunteers could think of no better name for her than ‘Twiggy’.
After a brief stint in the Cairns Intensive Care unit Twiggy was relocated to Fitzroy Island where she was very shy; hidden beneath her floating toy and only coming out for food (which she gobbled with great relish).
Franklin – Released December 2017
Franklin was a juvenile Green Sea Turtle suffering from Floaters disease. Franklin came to our attention because he chased a group of divers for an hour while asking for help.
Rinney – Released June 2017
Rinney was a juvenile Green Sea Turtle who had the misfortune to be caught in a marine contaminate (i.e an oil spill). He underwent various treatments to help him to overcome the chemicals that his little body was exposed to. After nearly two years of treatment he has finally returned to the ocean where we hope he fares considerably better and stays away from danger!
Shelly the Flatback Turtle, released May 2017
Shelly washed ashore near Port Douglas at the start of December 2016. She was underweight and suffering from a semi-state of floaters syndrome. Fortunately Shelly did not have any form of infection in her tiny body so she was able to transfer out of our Intensive Care to Fitzroy Island within weeks of being found. She was an incredibly timid turtle and picky eater however made a fantastic recovery and was released in May 2017.
Leo the Green Sea Turtle, released April 2017
At the start of 2017 a fisherman pulled in his catch off the coast of Cairns only to find that he had caught Leo! Leo was brought immediately into the Centre where vets operated to remove the hook. Leo’s mouth and throat was so swollen that poor Leo could not eat for five weeks. But once Leo healed he ate with such a gusto that he well and truly made up for the lost time! Leo’s released was filmed by an IMAX film crew so keep an eye out for Leo in their coming features!
Nellie the Green Sea Turtle, released November 2016
Nellie has been treated twice at the Rehabilitation Centre. The first time was in the early days of the Centre’s operations when she was treated for starvation (and released having regained her condition). Nellie was brought back to the Centre in 2012 suffering from a condition known as Fibro Paploma.
The only turtle in Australia to have made a full recovery from the contagious disease, Nellie finally left Intensive Care in December 2014 and spent the next two years rebuilding her former strength at Fitzroy Island. Nellie was released towards the end of the year- and while she will be sorely missed, we hope that third time is the charm and we never see her back again.
Ella the Green Sea Turtle, released June 2016
Little Ella is a miracle turtle. She was hit by a boat and her shell and head were badly damaged; for a while it was touch and go whether or not she would survive her extensive injuries. You might have seen the episode of Bondi Vet that featured Ella’s dramatic arrival.
With intensive veterinary care this little battler overcame her traumatic injuries (you could see her lungs through the wound) to make a strong recovery – her journey took nearly four years. Ella loved people and used to get very excited whenever a tour came through as she loved to show off to new people.
Jilly the Flatback Sea Turtle, released February 2016
Jilly washed into a Cairns inlet November 2014 and she had clearly been in the wars! Jilly has an old bite out of the back of her shell and she had lost half of her rear flipper in the attack – although this had happened several years ago and Jilly healed completely from this incident in the wild.
Fortunately for Jilly her luck held the next time she ran into a predator- a crocodile this time- and she escaped again, but this time she had a series of bites to her head, neck and shell. She was found injured and floating and was rushed into the Centre where she slowly healed.
Being a shy turtle Jilly was released on a private Glass Bottom Boat trip away from unwanted attention.
Harry the Hawksbill Hatchling, January 2016
Found when he was a mere 15cm long post-hatchling, Harry was discovered floating and emaciated in October 2013. At that age Harry should have been with his companions in the middle of the ocean rather than inshore where he was found.
He instantly won the hearts of all the volunteers with his tiny stature and stubborn nature- in the early days it could be a challenge to get him to eat when he would rather play (pictured left).
During his time with the Centre Harry grew significantly (pictured right). He is the youngest turtle that the Cairns Turtle Rehabilitation Centre has been able to track and we are excited to discover how he spends his time now that he is back in the wild!