'I found out what marine rubbish was doing, I was mortified'
FUELLED by serious concern about the effect of marine rubbish on turtles, a rescue centre in the Whitsundays is helping nurse the creatures back to health.
The centre is one of the projects of Eco Barge Clean Seas and was started in 2013 to help turtles in the Whitsundays.
Eco Barge Clean Seas founding chairperson Libby Edge said while cleaning up the beaches of Whitsundays she had found turtles were also being injured by the rubbish that was ending up in the ocean.
"When I found out what marine rubbish was doing, I was mortified for our sea turtles," Ms Edge said.
"We clean beaches so sharks, turtles and sea life isn't getting injured because of our throw-away behaviour."
The number of turtles needing to be rescued and nursed back to health by Whitsunday Marine Turtle Rescue Centre has dropped this year.
So far seven turtles have passed through the doors of the centre, with one still in care now.
Ms Edge said many of the turtles that needed care had blockages in their gut, which can stem from eating rubbish.
She said when the centre first started, it was "inundated" with 11 turtles coming into the centre at a time.
Tropical Cyclone Yasi in 2011 had damaged a lot of seagrass at the time and turtles were starving.
This year's total so far is well down on the 15 turtles that were cared for last year.
So far the centre has cared for 106 turtles, but has responded to 200 calls for help for turtles.
Ms Edge said most of the turtles stayed in care for an average of three months before being released back to the same spot they were found.
"We try and get them back (to where they came from) as soon as possible," she said.
The turtle to remain in the centre's care the longest was one that stayed there for eight months after suffering malnourishment and float issues.
The centre cares for turtles of all ages, from baby hatchlings to those later in life.
It has even cared for one that weighed between 150-160kg, was 1.5m in length and was too heavy for even six people to lift.