A FIELD trip by two PhD students turned into a rescue mission in the waters of Hervey Bay yesterday when they pulled a sick sea turtle onto their boat.
University of the Sunshine Coast PhD candidates Jesse Mossman and Bob Gorissen said they knew the turtle was in trouble when they saw it bobbing up and down in the water.
“Every time it would try and dive down it would come straight back up, almost upside down, so we knew something was wrong,” explained Bob.
“We pulled it onto the boat and made our way back to shore to hopefully get some help for it.”
A volunteer from Wildlife Fraser Coast met the two Sunshine Coast-based students at the Urangan boat ramp.
It’s understood the turtle will be taken to Australia Zoo’s sea turtle rehabilitation centre for treatment.
USC marine biologist Dr Kathy Townsend said it appeared as if the turtle was suffering from floating syndrome.
“This can be caused by two things, a parasite infection or the ingestion of marine debris,” said the Senior Lecturer in Animal Ecology.
“In both cases, the gut has limited its ability to digest food and gas builds up in the turtle’s body, preventing it from diving down and feeding.
“Hopefully, the care it gets from the amazing team at Australia Zoo’s Wildlife Hospital will allow it to be returned to the wild.”
The students were on a field trip conducting terrain mapping and setting up remote underwater video stations as part of research projects into groupers and scavenger fish species found on natural and artificial reefs around Hervey Bay.
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“There were actually lots of turtles out there where we found this one and they were big, healthy ones, which was really nice to see,” Jesse said.