January 2009, the Napranum rangers, Peter Harper and Angela Christie, prepared for another patrol of the 42km Pennefather Beach. Working in inclement monsoonal weather conditions, throughout this month, the rangers rescued a total of 63 turtles from ghost nets.
Most of them were released back into the ocean straight away but unfortunatley four of them had to be put into the quad bike trailer and transported to the tri-age facility the rangers had set up on the beach. Of the 2 Olive Ridley turtles one was in particulary terrible condition that the rangers named Jewel.
Once at the tri-age the turtles were cleaned and their wounds treated with antibiotic spray, photo’s were taken and all observations noted. The turtles were then measured and placed into a fresh water bath for 8 to 12 hours. this kills all saltwater bacteria on the turtle.
The second stage is placing the turtles in a clean salt water tank, where rangers would attempt to feed the turtles with squid. The turtles would also be observed at how well they are swimming and whether they could go to the bottom of the tank. This helps to determine the nature of their injuries.
Daily the tanks would be cleaned and the salt water replaced. While the tanks were filling rangers would clean the wounds on the turtles and treat them with antibiotic spray. When the spray had dried enough the turtles were then put back into the clean tanks and rangers would attempt to feed them.
After a few days rangers could see that Jewel was not getting any better and would need more professional help than that which the rangers could give onsite.
Rangers contacted Dr Col. Limpus and Sea World to see if they could help Jewel. Because of Jewel's condition, the decision had to be made to send Jewel to a closer location for further treatment. Rangers contacted Jenny Gilbert from Cairns Turtle Rehabilitation Centre and arrangements were made to send Jewel to Cairns.
Five months later Jewel returned to the Pennefather Beach fit and healthy.
For more of Jewels Journey read Tracking Turtle Recovery.