Saturday, July 30, 2011

Beach Refugee

No, not us this time.
Meet Myrtle.
I discovered Myrtle lying on the beach when I went for a walk yesterday afternoon.  She (or he, I know nothing about turtle gender) did not look very well.  At first I thought she was already dead, but when I gently lifted one of her flippers she tried to turn around and do a runner paddler.  Poor Myrtle was in a very bad way.  What to do? What to do?
Usually I would have my mobile with me, but I'd left it at home. I stood and watched her for a few minutes and it was obvious she didn't have the energy to get herself back to sea.  I knew that sick and dead sea turtles had been found on Townsville beaches recently.  Cyclone Yasi gets the blame again and rightly so.  The rough seas whipped up by the cyclone had destroyed most of the sea grass that the turtles feed on and now, six months later, turtles were starving and dying.  Poor Myrtle.  There was only one thing for it.  Pick her up and take her home and phone for help from there.
Myrtle might be starving and underweight, but she was still heavy.  Fortunately I was only a couple of hundred yards from home where I put Myrtle in the bath tub.  She took up most of the bath tub. After several phone calls I spoke to someone who told me that she was a green turtle and to cover her with an old bag or hessian and keep her wet with warm water.  Not having any hessian she got my good recently worn out Actil sheets. I think she looks like a well dressed turtle.  He also told me that the algae on her carapace was not a good sign.  The barnacles were more normal, but still not great to have on her head and flippers.

Myrtle spent the night in the tub and in the morning it did look as though she was an ex-turtle.  She wasn't moving at all.  When someone rang from the EPA (Environmental Protection Authority) Mr Sunshine told them that we thought she had died.  Just before I left for an appointment, I lifted her little flipper to have one last look at her and just to be sure she wasn't playing possum.  She moved her head - ever so slightly, but she was alive.  While I was out the EPA man came to pick up Myrtle's mortal remains and Mr Sunshine produced a live turtle.  They took Myrtle out into the sun, poured some more warm water over her and let the sun warm her up.  She perked up a bit.  It was a good sign.

The news is that Townsville's Reef HQ already has so many convalescing green turtles that Myrtle will probably be sent up to Cairns.  Apparently we are reasonably good turtle carers, but we could have kept her on some foam (maybe one of my pillows??) to take a weight off her lower carapace and we could have warmed her up more.  You live and learn.
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The best news is that with expert care, she will probably fully recover.


  1. The boys are very keen on turtles and are very proud of you for helping Myrtle. I hope she makes a full recovery.
    The effects of the cyclone are long lasting and far reaching, aren't they?

  2. Oh Wow - you do have unusual house guests! I have Eli here looking over my shoulder - he is loving your turtle pics!
    Hope you had a great weekend & have a lovely week


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Mr. Sunshine & Grannysaurus

Mr. Sunshine & Grannysaurus


About Me

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Townsville, Queensland, Australia
I have worked as a Biology lab assistant, Pathology lab assistant, geochem lab assistant, land tenure researcher, hospital and prison chaplain, parish care coordinator and part owner of a small business. I have studied some science (no degrees) and have a theology and a chaplaincy certificate. I still love science of all types and enjoy studying theology. Science and theology belong together. At present I am a work-at-home Grannysaurus.

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