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Olivia the Hawksbill Turtle

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PhotoCredit_KirraPendergast-4262PhotoCredit_KirraPendergast-4256Today was a magical day.

Over the last 10mths I have got to know this lovely little turtle whilst she has been in care at Australian Seabird Rescue’s Turtle rehabilitation facility in Ballina.

Olivia was rescued at Boundary Creek at South Ballina back in February. She was extremely underweight at 6kgs, exhausted and depressed. She was suffering from float syndrome. Olivia’s float syndrome was caused from a lung infection and when investigated further it was found that she had lots of phytoplastic (small plastic particles) present in her faeces.

After numerous courses of antibiotics and vitamins, Olivia was moved into the large tank at the turtle hospital but was still not gaining weight. The team at Australian Seabird Rescue tried different medications and knew that one treatment would possibly make her lose more weight but it was their last option. As expected she lost weight and got down to 5.3 kg. The medications eventually did the job and she was free of all parasites and infections. With lots of attention by many volunteers, today she weighed 8 kgs and was ready for release.

The dilemma for the amazing team at Australian Seabird Rescue over the past fortnight has been the fact that there are now trials of drum-line off Ballina.

Drum-lines in Queensland have caught and killed numerous turtles since the 1960’s and Australian Seabird Rescue and all of their volunteers were not happy to hear that they would be trialled in Ballina, where they had planned to release Olivia.

Australian Seabird Rescue in no way supports or endorses the use of drum-lines anywhere along the coast of Australia, especially near where they release critically endangered sea turtles in Ballina and surrounding areas. In the last 52 years in Queensland, 57,000 sharks of various species (most non-threatening to humans) have been caught in the shark control program.

Close to 30,000 other marine animals have been caught as by-catch including whales, dolphins, dugongs, seals, rays and sea turtles. Common Ground 100% supports Australian Seabird Rescue in it’s position against the use of drum-lines.

Australian Seabird Rescue’s General Manager Kathrina Southwell said, “Olivia has been eating dead food in a captive environment for 10 months while being rehabilitated and Australian Seabird Rescue believe she would be more likely to be caught on a drum-line due to her diet during rehabilitation more so than most turtles.

Olivia represents the extremely hard work that the volunteers do to rehabilitate these critically endangered ocean creatures. She has been the face of Australian Seabird Rescue, being a highlight for hundreds of people when they have visited us on our tours over the past 10 months.

We want to give her the best possible chance of survival and we think she has a better chance if we release her into the Cape Byron Marine Park where there will be plenty of live food for her to eat and other turtles too….away from any possible set drum-lines.”

Sundive Byron Bay stepped up and happily took us out on the dive boat to release little Olivia at The Julian Rocks much to the delight of divers and snorklers that had booked before they knew that they would be in for such a treat! It was a stunning day and we saw at least five other turtles out there, it was like a welcoming committee for Olivia as she cruised off into the big blue.

If you can spare some cash please donate to assist Australian Seabird Rescue continue their amazing work
here. http://seabirdrescue.org/

If you have never dived or snorkelled at The Julian Rocks…pop that on the top of your summer to do list and book with our friends Sundive Byron Bay 

PhotoCredit_KirraPendergast-4291 PhotoCredit_KirraPendergast-4298 PhotoCredit_KirraPendergast-4302 PhotoCredit_KirraPendergast-4304 PhotoCredit_KirraPendergast-4309PhotoCredit_KirraPendergast-0288 PhotoCredit_KirraPendergast-4318 PhotoCredit_KirraPendergast-4433

Kirra Pendergast is the editor of Common Ground Australia. An award winning photographer, Kirra first picked up a camera at 12yrs old. Her photography has been widely published in everything from international newspapers through to Rolling Stone Magazine (which was a major bucket list tick) Kirra is always out capturing photographs of things as varied as the immense power and beauty of the ocean, storms, and the breathtaking landscapes of Northern NSW. Kirra's photographic passion is music, portraiture and street photography. Born and raised in Byron Bay, Kirra's family has spent generations in the Northern Rivers hailing from Lismore, Tuntable Falls, Tregagle and Byron Bay. Kirra is passionate about supporting local music, creatives, the arts and local business using Common Ground as a platform to promote this place, its people and their passion.

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