Cairns Turtle Rehabilitation Centre
The Cairns Turtle Rehabilitation Centre was started in 2002, when a need was identified for a facility to house injured and sick marine turtles brought in from the Great Barrier Reef. The centre was first started at Undersea World Aquarium and the Pier Market Place. Two marine biologists Jennie Gilbert and Paul Barnes volunteered to look after these animals. This facility was closed when the Pier was sold, and the CTRC was faced with a sick turtle not ready for release and nowhere for the turtle to be housed.
In 2004 Sunlover Reef Cruises came to the rescue and generously donated a small portion of land at Tingara Street, Cairns to the Turtle Rehabilitation Centre to build a rehabilitation facility to nurse sick and injured turtles back to health.
Since the commencement of the centre at Tingara Street there have been over 150 sick and injured animals many which have been in CTRC’s care for up to 24 months before being well enough to be released back into the wild. Turtles found floating on the Great Barrier Reef are reported to the EPA stranding hotline, the rangers collect the turtles and bring them into the centre or to Marlin Coast Vet Hospital where they undergo a medical check, x-ray and treatment is administered; this treatment is donated by the hospital. When the turtles start eating it can cost up to $40.00-$50.00 per day to feed, with up to 17 in care the food bill can get expensive. The daily routine at the turtle rehabilitation centre consists of feeding the turtles, hosing filter bags and cleaning the turtle tanks twice a day ensuring pristine water quality so these animals can recover to be returned back to the wild.
Many of the turtles that are returned back to the wild are released at Moore Reef from the Sunlover Reef Cruise boat. Although they transverse the ocean to find feeding grounds it ensures safety when they are first returned to the ocean. Presently with the decimation of the inshore sea grass beds, green turtles that feed on the sea grass beds are starving. In the past 2 years there has been an 800% increase in strandings. With all of the rehabilitation centers along the east coast of QLD many turtles have had to be turned away.
Sunlover Reef Cruises continues to be part of this wonderful organisation by regularly transferring volunteers and equipment to the new centre, including the precious rehabilitated turtles.