Turtle rescue at Byron Bay
Turtle rescue at Byron Bay

Olivia recovers and finds a new home at Cape Byron

OLIVIA, a critically endangered hawksbill sea turtle, was released at The Pass at Byron Bay this morning.

Australian Seabird Rescue general manager, Kathrina Southwell, said the turtle's release was different to other releases because of the "dilemma we have faced ... that there are now trials of drumlines off Ballina".

"Olivia was rescued at Boundary Creek at South Ballina back in February, 10 months ago," she said.

"She was extremely underweight at 6kg, exhausted and depressed.

"She was suffering from float syndrome.

"Olivia's float syndrome was caused from a lung infection and when we looked at a slide from her faeces under the microscope, she had lots of phytoplastic (small plastic particles) present as well.

"After numerous courses of antibiotics and vitamins, Olivia was moved into the large tank but was still not gaining weight.

"We tried different medications and we knew that one treatment would possibly make her lose more weight but it was our last option.

"As expected she lost weight and got down to 5.3kg.

"The medications eventually did the job and she was free of all parasites and infections.

"With lots of attention by many volunteers, she now weighs 8kg."

Although Australian Seabird Rescue would have normally released Olivia at Ballina, the organisation "in no way supports or endorses the use of drumlines".

"Drumlines in Queensland have caught and killed numerous turtles since the 1960s and Australian Seabird Rescue and all of our volunteers were not happy to hear that it would be trialled in Ballina, where we had planned to release Olivia," Ms Southwell said.

"Olivia has been eating dead food in a captive environment for 10 months while being rehabilitated and we believe she would be more inclined to be caught on a drumline due to her diet during rehabilitation more so than most turtles.

"We want to give her the best possible chance of survival and we think she has a better chance if we release her into the Cape Byron Marine Park where there will be plenty of live food for her to eat and other turtles too ... away from any possible set drum lines."

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