How does a tropical turtle end up here?
The video is a little shaky, but we did our best...
The feels were strong at Merimbula yesterday when Opal, the Green Turtle, was released into warm seas to head for her northern home. Many of the special locals who helped rehabilitate the young turtle had gathered on the red rocks below the Merimbula Aquarium Wharf Restaurant, and there were some tears, along with the smiles, as she powered off into the deep.
Opal was bad shape when local divers found her near Mallacoota in May 2016. She was unable to dive and feed because of a 'bubble' under her shell. She'd grown thin, and barnacles had covered her shell. Cold and hungry, she was hiding in a crevasse and stood little chance of making it back to the tropics. Good blokes, the divers brought her ashore and called Anthony and Sally Daly at Merimbula Wharf Restaurant & Aquarium to see what they could do.
It wasn't the first time the Daly's had received a call like this. They've been part of efforts to save several Green Turtles in the past and were more than happy to help. Opal's recovery began with warmth, seaweed soup, antibiotics and lots of rest. Her nurse was WIRES Branch President Janine Green, who has, among the enclosures at her Merimbula home, a special turtle recovery tank. Janine has teamed up with Anthony and Sally to nurse Green Turtles before, but she's also cared for a Fjord Penguin from New Zealand and countless wombats, kangaroos, echidnas, birds and even snakes.
Under Janine's care, Opal grew stronger and was soon moved to more spacious quarters at Merimbula Aquarium Wharf Restaurant. Her returning appetite was craving baby squid, and a group of local kids, Environmental & Animal Savers, raised money through market stalls and chocolate drives to keep her well fed.When aquarist Hannah Cousin weighed Opal for the last time yesterday, she had grown four centimetres and gained four kilograms.
Marine experts say that young Green Turtles can get lost in a storm, or travel too far from familiar grounds, and end up getting carried south on the famous East Australia Current. The EAC weakens near Narooma, but its warm tendrils extend and swirl along the Sapphire Coast and often bring tropical creatures. That's how a dugong ended up in Merimbula Lake last year (it was flown to the Gold Coast in a military Hercules where it was rehabilitated at Sea World and released).
Find out more about local efforts to rehabilitate and conserve endangered and threatened native animals at Potoroo Palace Native Animal Sanctuary, On The Perch and the Sapphire Coast Marine Discovery Centre (you can go snorkelling with one of the team during April).
Visit them online to see when you can meet the keeper, help to feed the animals and have close encounters on land and in the sea.
View all blog posts