save our sea turtles

The Cairns turtle rehab centre is a voluntary-based, non-profit organisation where sick and injured turtles are treated.

After the floods in late 2010 and Cyclone Yasi in January 2011 there has been an 800% increase in Turtle strandings along the Queensland coast. Depletion of sea grass beds from natural disasters and and an increase in the incidence of floaters disease and Fibropapilloma tumours has led to this increase.

The Cairns Turtle Rehabilitation Centre was established in 2000, however with the increase of sick and injured turtles it became apparent that the Cairns centre was not big enough and a new facility was required. The new Turtle Rehabilitation Centre located on Fitzroy Island officially opened in early 2013. This new world-class facility with more room, cleaner water, bigger tanks and an Education Centre has raised the success rate for the rehabilitation of the turtles from 30% to 85%, and is now one of the highest success rates in Australia.

The Sea Turtles are brought into the Cairns rehabilitation centre from the Great Barrier Reef and Cape York Peninsula. The most common turtles we see through the rehab centre are the Green turtle and Hawksbill turtle, these turtles can stay in the centre anywhere between 6 to 24 months until they are healthy enough to be released. 

Many of the turtles are brought into the rehab centre with an illness called ‘floaters syndrome’ which is an obstruction that occurs in the turtle’s gut causing air to become trapped between the shell and the body, impacting the animal's ability to dive down to the sea grass beds in order to eat. If these turtles are not found they end up starving to death. 

The turtles brought down from Cape York suffer horrendous injuries from entanglement in discarded fishing nets. Qantas link fly the turtles down from Cape York to Cairns where they are treated at the rehab centre, once fully recovered these turtles are sent back to the Cape to be released.

At the rehabilitation centre the turtles are fed daily, when the turtles first arrive at the rehab centre their individual food bill is about $150.00 each week. Sick turtles will spend at least 6 months to recover, some even years. Once the turtle has made a full recovery, a satellite tracker is attached to their shell and we follow the movements of the turtles.

Educational Tours are held on Fitzroy Island every day at 1pm (not on a Friday when the vet visits) and are also subject to availability,  please contact Fitzroy Island Resort reception to make a booking.