Sick and injured turtles are brought to Fitzroy Island to convalesce after receiving emergency medical treatment. Dozens of turtles have been successfully nursed back to health here, and released directly from the beach.
On my visit to Fitzroy, I met Betty and Barney. Learning of Betty's crushed lungs, caused by being flipped upside down, and Barney's collapsed carapace, was hard to process (hence, the head-cluttering). But these two juvenile green turtles are nearing their final stages of recovery thanks to these humanitarian volunteers.
As well as injuries from boat strikes, many turtles arrive at the centre suffering from 'floaters syndrome', whereby the turtle has swallowed an air-filled plastic bag, keeping the turtle afloat in the water. And where do turtles dine? Yes, at the bottom of the ocean on seagrass and algae! So if it doesn't die from starvation, it's likely to be taken by predators.
It was difficult walking away from the tanks. Knowing that the discarded plastic and ghost nets that lie out in our oceans might one day end up inside a turtle is hard to digest.
So what can we do? Well, one thing we can do, as well as paying astute attention to how we treat our planet and its marine residents, is to not use plastic bags. And another is to donate to this essential cause at: www.saveourseaturtles.com.au. Let's clutter only our heads, not the stomachs of turtles!