Issue 2
Monday, 13 March 2017
Charles Darwin University
Olive ridley hatchling Chomper before her release back to the wild
Olive ridley hatchling Chomper before her release back to the wild

CDU celebrates turtle release

By Katie Weiss

Two native sea turtles have returned to their ocean homes after being cared for by staff at the Top End’s only ongoing turtle rehabilitation facility at Charles Darwin University.

The aquaculture team at Casuarina campus spent months preparing Chompa the olive ridley hatchling and Gretchen the green sea turtle for their release at Dundee Beach earlier this month.

Head of Horticulture Scott McDonald said his team had provided ongoing rehabilitation for up to a dozen Top End marine turtles each year, for more than five years.

“The turtle rehabilitation facility at CDU is a fantastic tool to educate students, high schoolers and the wider community about native marine turtles,” Mr McDonald said.

He said two staff members cared for turtles in two dedicated four tonne water tanks on campus, sourcing their food and building up their strength before their release.

Mr McDonald said Chompa was found trapped in her nest at Bare Sand Island last year, and had grown to more than twice her size to about 15 cm while living on campus.

Five-year-old Gretchen was nursed to health and released after being found at Dundee Beach three months ago, suffering from floating gas syndrome and unable to dive.

The initiative is coordinated by NT Wildlife Operations and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources in partnership with CDU, the Ark Animal Hospital, and Aus Turtle.