Saturday, April 20, 2024

Queensland floats further $1m for new turtle rehab hub

The Queensland Government today announced it will invest an additional $1 million into the development of a turtle rehabilitation facility on the Fraser Coast.

The Fraser Coast Marine Turtle Rehabilitation and Research Centre is expected to aid the recovery of more than 150 sick and injured marine turtles every year.

The facility, led by UniSC, will be a regional hub for research, education and training as well as community outreach which will support efforts to protect and conserve marine turtles in Queensland, Environment Minister, Leanne Linard said today.

Ms Linard said the additional $1 million investment made in the 2023/2024 budget was on top of an earlier commitment of $230,000 to purchase specialist turtle life support equipment.

“This facility will bridge a gap between much-needed turtle care and rehabilitation and ongoing turtle health research, improving the chances of survival for individual turtles and turtle conservation as a whole,” she said.

“Once complete and operating, the facility will allow for the improved protection of marine turtles and improved recovery rates of sick and injured marine turtles.

“It will also provide research opportunities into marine turtle diseases, emerging threats to marine turtles and other marine life.

“The new centre will also improve community awareness of the plight of marine turtles and the need to maximise biodiversity in the region through education led by UniSC.

“This is a great investment for the Fraser Coast and Queensland as a whole as we work to preserve our precious marine wildlife.”

The Great Sandy Strait, adjacent to the Fraser Coast, is visited by six of the world’s seven marine turtle species including the endangered loggerhead, the vulnerable green, hawksbill and flatback turtles.

Sadly, these protected marine animals face threats including boat strikes and habitat disruption. Data collected through the centre will also help UniSC continue important research on the emergence of new mystery disease eating away at the shells of turtles, that is so far contained to the Great Sandy Region.

University of the Sunshine Coast Vice-Chancellor and President Professor, Helen Bartlett said the collaboration draws on UniSC’s global research expertise on marine turtles, including threats from human impacts such as micro-plastics and other pollutants.

“To rescue and rehabilitate sea turtles is vitally important, as is understanding the cause of these turtle strandings and deaths,” said Professor Bartlett.

“The data on turtle health and movement gathered through this centre will provide critical understanding of the ecology and sustainability of the different species who live here and will give us new insights into the threats facing Australia’s sea turtles.

“We are extremely thankful to receive this funding from the State Government, and to work with Turtles in Trouble Rescue and other key partners including Australia Zoo, Fraser Coast Regional Council and the Butchulla Native Title Aboriginal Corporation (BNTAC) on this important initiative.”

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