Cruz is back in business
CRUZ the turtle "took off like a rocket" when released by Australian Seabird Rescue volunteers yesterday.
The green sea turtle was the star of the show in front of a crowd estimated by rescue manager Kath Southwell at between 300 and 400 at Flat Rock beach, near Ballina.
Cruz was found at Clarks Beach, Byron Bay, in November suffering from float syndrome, which can be caused by ingesting the plastic rubbish that is now so prevalent in the ocean.
He had a large barnacle on his shell that had burrowed down and caused an infection.
Cruz was put on a course of antibiotics and started eating squid within five days. He also had a taste for red seaweed and anchovies, all of which helped him put on 2kg and rid him of float syndrome.
"It was a huge couple of days for us," Miss Southwell said.
"Adrian Midwood, from Ocean Ambassadors, and Tim Silverwood, from Take 3, were in town spreading the word about picking up rubbish on the beach.
"On a tour of our wildlife sanctuary we discussed the effects on sea turtles of plastic in the ocean.
"We also had Walkaway Dave, of Lennox Head, talking about his 10-week trip collecting beach plastic.
"He'll be doing another trip in June and I'll be joining him for a week."
Miss Southwell said the big crowd for the turtle's release could be attributed to the celebrity guests and the influence of social media.
"Our Facebook page and Twitter definitely helped," she said.
"It was great that Cruz took to the ocean again so well but the sad fact remains we don't even see many of the turtles affected by this."