North Queensland woman houses 113 turtles rescued from lagoon used by firefighters

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  1. Flaviemys purvisi

    Flaviemys purvisi Very Well-Known Member

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    By Angel Parsons
    24/12/2019
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    Some residents have been bringing the stranded turtles to the woman's backyard.
    Supplied: Tracey Bazzo



    A north Queensland wildlife volunteer looks set to have a few more Christmas guests than usual, after more than 100 turtles fleeing a lagoon used to fight bushfires are brought to her by concerned locals.

    The turtles started fleeing Mullers Lagoon, in the centre of Bowen in the Whitsundays, late last week.

    Locals spotted the creatures searching for water on nearby streets and took them to Tracey Bazzo, a licensed volunteer for the Bowen Sea Turtle Assessment and Rehabilitation program.

    Ms Bazzo said she started off with about 20 last Friday, but now had about 100 in her care.

    "They walk extremely fast. They've been going across all the roads in that area looking for water," she said.

    "It is hot and they've been looking to go and lie somewhere in the cool as well."

    But Ms Bazzo said many died during their attempt to find water.

    "Most of the turtles the wonderful people of this town have brought in have been found on roads, and we've lost quite a few, actually, people running over them, and I know it's not deliberate — it's just one of those things you just don't see it until it's too late," she said.
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    Ms Bazzo hopes to return the turtles to the lagoon as soon as it is habitable again for the reptiles.
    Supplied: Tracey Bazzo



    Ms Bazzo said the town had come together to help her take care of the turtles, bringing more vessels in which to hold water and food for the reptiles.

    "We've had wonderful people come in with donations of food for them," she said.

    "Because we've got them in shallow kid's pools, shell pools, and a lovely young lady came in and bought up everything that was left in town, which is just fantastic," she said.

    "A lot of people in Bowen have donated their [pools], saying their kids don't need them anymore."

    "We've put gazebos up to keep them protected and we have some volunteers that come in every couple of hours."

    Why was the lagoon so low?
    The Whitsunday Regional Council could not specify what capacity Mullers Lagoon had fallen to, but said it had become low due to dry conditions.

    Chief Operating Officer of Whitsunday Water and Waste, Troy Pettiford, said the lagoon was also used to help fight fires in the region earlier this year.

    "The choppers coming down and taking some water out, so it's probably gone down a little bit further than we wished for, but it was definitely used for a good cause, that's for sure," Mr Pettiford said.
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    Ms Bazzo said she now had about 113 turtles in her care.
    Supplied: Tracey Bazzo



    He said similar turtle movements had been seen in the area before.

    "When water gets lower sometimes the temperature can change, there's quite a colony of turtles in there and it's started to get a bit crowded, so they're looking at alternative options," he said.

    "It's sort of a common occurrence this time of year in dryer times."

    Councillor Mike Brunker said water would be pumped into the lagoon from the town's supply and it could take weeks to supplement it.

    "With the dry conditions it's going to take a couple of weeks, and it's going to be a long process," Cr Brunker said.

    "It's not like a bath tub, we're not going to be able to fill it up overnight."

    Ms Bazzo said she would continue housing and caring for the turtles with her own money until they could be returned to the lagoon.

    "Our population is declining, but I'm sure we've got enough to keep it going once we've got water in the lagoon," she said.

    "At this stage we've got plenty of food and I've got some fantastic volunteers. I'm not particularly worried about the money side of things.

    "I just want to be able to get these turtles and retain a nice healthy environment for them."
     
    Last edited: Dec 24, 2019
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