Marine conservation group Sea Shelter was celebrating this week after a green sea turtle it was able to rescue, rehabilitate and release all in Port Stephens for the first time was a success.
Sea Shelter is an initiative of Irukandji Shark and Ray Encounters owners Lia and Ryan Pereira, who said since moving into their new business premises in Anna Bay earlier this year they now had the facilities and space to provide rehabilitation in Port Stephens rather than drive injured animals to Taronga Wildlife Hospital.
"We started Sea Shelter in 2017 and have been rehabilitating sharks, rays and fish ourselves this whole time," Mrs Pereira said.
"We soon discovered Sea Shelter was going to have to add marine reptiles to its rescues as there was an immediate demand.
"When Irukandji Shark and Ray Encounters moved to Jessie Road we were able to start up in the large quarantine area with loads of space and much better facilities whilst working with vets for the extra machinery required. Once Irukandji build their phase three we will move into an even larger space with complete hospital facilities."
Concerned resident Ben Sharp found the green sea turtle at Boat Harbour on September 8 and delivered her to Irukandji.
The 45-centimetre long female juvenile green sea turtle with carapace, who was named Ally, was found to have a severe laceration to her left flipper caused by fishing line which had been cut off.
To ensure there were no bone infections or breaks, Ally received an X-ray with the assistance of veterinarian Dr Emma Hall, who is known as The Wild Vet.
The X-ray showed no breaks or bone infections, just a mild bacterial infection that was determined through blood analysis. Ally was treated with antibiotics for six weeks and placed on a highly nutritional diet to boost her weight and strength.
"[Emma] had approached us previously after visiting our facility, offering her assistance. Residing in Sydney, she showed dedication driving up here with her team to assess Ally," Mrs Pereira said.
"At the time she was the first one available and we were grateful. We are looking to get a network of vets around the whole area to allow prompt lifesaving treatment for sea life."
Ally responded well to the treatments and on October 21 she was deemed healthy enough to be released.
Mrs Pereira said it was Sea Shelter's hope to rehabilitate as many rescued turtles as possible in Port Stephens, which would bridge the gap between Sydney and Coffs Harbour for marine animal care.
The volunteer organisation has another two green sea turtles currently in care.
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