Turtles back in the swim
FOUR sick turtles nursed back to health by volunteers returned to the sea at Byron Bay yesterday.
The two Green turtles and two Hawksbill turtles - which are listed as critically endangered - had been taken to Ballina-based Australian Seabird Rescue after washing up on local beaches.
Each had swallowed plastic, which made them ill and underweight.
Turtles often see plastic items as attractive food sources, but when swallowed it blocks their intestines and they slowly die from starvation.
General manager of Australian Seabird Rescue Rochelle Ferris said the turtles had been in care for one to six months and all had returned to a healthy weight of about 10kg.
She said the Cape Byron Marine Park was an ideal place to release the turtles, as there was no fishing in the area, lots of other turtles and plenty of food sources.
Curious onlookers gathered at Main Beach yesterday to see the turtles - named Sunny, Delilah, Rachel and Vic, released back into the water.
Ms Ferris said Seabird Rescue currently has a record number of turtles in care and recently bought more tanks to house them.
She said the increase was largely due to the 'Make Turtles Count' campaign, which encourages people to bring sick turtles to Australian Seabird Rescue, rather than pushing them back into the sea.