Rehabilitated turtles released on Mooloolaba beach

SEA LIFE The Sunshine Coast released four rehabilitated turtles back into the ocean at Mooloolaba Beach in Queensland on Monday, January 23.

Four green sea turtles, named Jake, Luna, Goku and Cavill, have been taken into care SEA LIFE Sunshine Coast between August and November last year. According SEA LIFE of staff, the turtles underwent “extensive” rehabilitation to prepare for their release back into the ocean.

“It’s an amazing feeling to see four turtles swimming back into the ocean at once, it’s a great way to start the year,” said staff member Brittany Attwood. “Releasing the turtles we’ve been caring for is always bittersweet so we get so attached to them, but it’s definitely a win for the species.”

The four-issue follows Feb. 4 Chick Cleanup, an event that encourages the community to come together to clean up the Sunshine Coast beaches in preparation for the breeding season. Loan: SEA LIFE Sunshine Coast by Storyful

Video transcript

Just tell us about the four beautiful turtles you’re releasing today.

BRITTAY ATTWOOD: Yes, we have four gorgeous green sea turtles ready for today. So they were looked after – we have Cavill. He was our longest. He has been with us since August. The other children have been with us since about November. So they’ve all recovered from a lot of stuff and been cleaned up by the vet team so they’re ready to go back to that beautiful blue ocean today.

wow. So what are some of the things that — what states were they found in?

BRITTAY ATTWOOD: Yes. So whenever a turtle is found, it’s usually in very bad shape. They are quite lethargic from feeling unwell for several months before arriving at a rehab facility. So we have Cavill. He actually had Soft Shell Syndrome, a condition found in some local tortoises.

So he made a full recovery after that which is great. We have Jake. So, with the help of the Aussie Zoo Wildlife Hospital team, he underwent treatment for a collapsed lung. And then we have Goose and Luna who are cured of swimming syndrome.

wow. So what kind of work do you do to rehabilitate them here and what makes them unqualified to be ready to go back to the ocean?

BRITTAY ATTWOOD: Yes. So we do a lot of different jobs. So of course we have injectables they get when they’re here. They may get some betadine baths if they have any skin lesions or armor damage. And then, of course, we can also take an X-ray and take some blood to give them a full analysis.

Therefore, the veterinary team allows them to be released when they are in really good condition. So at least we like to see them with 85% ideal body weight. So all these guys are very massive and ready to go.


[INAUDIBLE] final touches today. Are you going to follow them or what do you do before you release them?

BRITTAY ATTWOOD: Yes. So before we release, everyone gets a microchip and they get a fin too. So that number is there. It’s universal, so if they ever end up in another rehab facility, which hopefully they won’t, but if they do, any facility can follow their story and know what we did here.

wow. And how incredible is it that they can actually be released? I mean, one of them had a collapsed lung. But when they first entered the aquarium [INAUDIBLE] is there a chance they won’t make it?

BRITTAY ATTWOOD: Look, there’s always… unfortunately, a lot of them don’t make it through, which is very sad for the species, so we just take it with these guys day after day and do as much as we can. So it’s such a great feeling to have four turtles go out at once. It’s a great way to start the year.

Yes. And in 2020, a crazy number of turtles came to the aquarium. What was that?

BRITTAY ATTWOOD: Yes. It was a really busy year. So 100 turtles passed through our center, so the numbers were, yes, almost double what they were last year. So yeah, huge increase. And that’s such a great team here at SEA LIFE Sunny Coast. So we’re all throwing in and we’re all here for these creatures, so our main focus was the turtles, getting them fit and healthy and getting them out.

Do you know what caused so many turtles to need care?

BRITTAY ATTWOOD: Yes, I think the flood — the flood that happened at the beginning of the year. Certainly many different resorts have seen an increase in their numbers, so that definitely didn’t help. The disease of the soft shell syndrome that circled around. But in general, most of the turtles we care for suffer from floatation syndrome, so this is usually the main symptom we see.

So what do people like me… what can we do to stop something like this? Is there anything we can do?

BRITTAY ATTWOOD: Yes. That’s why we always encourage if you’re on the beach, take three to the sea. You know, if you’re ever there, pick it up. It prevents it from entering the turtle’s body. And second, if you find a sick or injured sea turtle, we encourage anyone to call the marine hotline number. This number is 1300-130-EPA. And the rangers there can contact a rehabilitation center like us at SEA LIFE and give these turtles the help and care they need.

Have I missed something? That’s the majority?

BRITTAY ATTWOOD: Do not think like that. Yes.

Yes. [INAUDIBLE] Is it a bit sad to see a turtle go away?

BRITTAY ATTWOOD: It’s always really bittersweet. It’s a huge win for the genre, but you really get attached to them. Each turtle has a different personality. So yeah, they all have their little quirks, so it’s always very bittersweet to see them go. But it’s great.


BRITTAY ATTWOOD: Yes. It’s such an amazing feeling. So we’re always trying to get as many out as possible, so yeah, again, having four in one day is… what a great way to start the week.


What is your hope for the turtles when they come off the beach?

BRITTAY ATTWOOD: Yes. So we’re hoping there are a few local colonies in the area, so [INAUDIBLE] Island. So let’s hope our goal is to see them make their way there, find a beautiful bed of seagrass, a good food source, and cross our fingers that they stay out of trouble and are good turtles, live happily ever after.

And I believe this is your last day too?

BRITTAY ATTWOOD: It’s my last day, so yes, very, very emotional. So yeah, it’s a great way, a great day.





How long are you working here?

BRITTAY ATTWOOD: I’ve been here four years. So yeah, it’s super bittersweet.

Did you count how many turtles you released in that time?

BRITTAY ATTWOOD: We would be in the hundreds how many we released. So yeah, it’s great.

Some of you knew what we were trying to do.

BRITTAY ATTWOOD: Good boy. So we just put the tag in place. So every turtle that has been in the care of SEA LIFE Sunshine Coast so we always give them a fin before they come out. So I’m just making sure everything’s right. As you can see, it’s a pretty big… pretty big spin, so we want to make sure everything’s okay, we only have to do it once.

OKAY. So just cover those eyes to help them stay cool and calm while traveling. They still want to make sure they can breathe. But it will help Cavill stay a little calm and relaxed before we reach the ocean and release him.



BRITTAY ATTWOOD: Hello. How do you do? [LAUGHS]


–cart. We’ll put the cart on the left — sorry — on the right, near the showers. Can you get in one of the carts with Holly?

Yes. And the location?

BRITTAY ATTWOOD: I think we could go a little to the left. He’s not that busy. And here are some people in the waves.

For example, to the red flag?

BRITTAY ATTWOOD: So [INAUDIBLE]. But yes, if you can hop on one of the carts.


No pressure.



BRITTAY ATTWOOD: Do you only do cava?



whatever you need. I could get out of your way.

BRITTAY ATTWOOD: Yes. No. All right. Do you want to stand on one side… Can we pull these out? We’ll let everyone in [INAUDIBLE] position.


Are you going to unzip it and carry it?

BRITTAY ATTWOOD: Yes, we’ll take it a bit. All right. Are you almost ready? OKAY. Are you ready guys? All right. Pop ’em down. Be good, children.


Wrong way!




Thank you for all the training you have had [INAUDIBLE] and all the best wherever you go. Going somewhere exciting?

BRITTAY ATTWOOD: Really emotional. It’s great to see these four coming home together today. So we just wish them all the best. And hopefully one day they’ll be there and be able to make us lots of little babies. I mean to maintain the species for many years.

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