Mackay & District Turtle Watch Association Fay Griffin and Reef Catchment project officer for coastal systems Claire Bartron release Harry the Hawksbill Turtle back into the water after rehabilitation.
Mackay & District Turtle Watch Association Fay Griffin and Reef Catchment project officer for coastal systems Claire Bartron release Harry the Hawksbill Turtle back into the water after rehabilitation. Lee Constable

Healthy Harry dives back into the ocean

THERE was nothing slow and steady about Harry the hawksbill turtle's return to the ocean.

He was out of sight within seconds of being placed back into what was familiar territory for the animal.

Harry, whose gender is unknown, was found washed up at Illawong Beach in early September last year and since then has been recovering at Reef HQ in Townsville.

Mackay and District Turtle Watch Association treasurer and spokeswoman Fay Griffin returned Harry to the water at Shoal Point Beach yesterday.

Ms Griffin said Harry had been taken to EcoBarge HQ at Airlie Beach when first found, until space at Reef HQ became available.

She said Harry suffered from lung contraction, probably caused by parasites or an infection.

"He wasn't too well (when he arrived), he has become quite a star at Reef HQ," Ms Griffin said.

"It's just such a beautiful looking animal, his size and the kids just relate to him so he became quite a star."

She described Harry, who is an endangered species, as "juvenile" and estimated him to be about 15 years old.

"It's always a long program with treating sick turtles," Ms Griffin said.

Other than time, Harry needed heat and anti-parasite medication to make a full recovery she said.

Reef Catchments project officer for coastal systems Claire Bartron is the one who found Harry.

"The reason he was released around here is because this is near where he was found, he washed up and was found by someone walking the beach and they called the Mackay and District Turtle Watch Association," Ms Bartron said.

"So myself and another volunteer headed down to check it out."


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