Thursday, 6 October 2016

Rare hybrid sea turtle released on the Great Barrier Reef – via Herp Digest

AAP 9/29/16

A rare hybrid turtle has been released back into the wild on the Great Barrier Reef after being nursed back to health at a Townsville aquarium.

The reptile, named Summer, is a cross between a green sea turtle and a hawksbill turtle - the first of its kind recorded in Australia.

Summer has just spent more than six months being cared for at the Reef HQ Great Barrier Reef Aquarium's turtle hospital.

She was nursed back to health after being found at the Port of Townsville with severe injuries from two fishing hooks lodged in her mouth.

Summer, thought to be between 15 and 20 years old, was released into waters at The Strand in Townsville this morning alongside a green turtle named Sofie.

Sofie was taken to the turtle hospital after she was found malnourished and lethargic by researchers at Cockle Bay, Magnetic Island.

Both reptiles recovered after being given a high protein diet, anti-parasite medication and low salinity baths.

Reef HQ Aquarium's director Fred Nucifora said while hybridisation was common in sea turtles, Summer's crossbreed was so rare that she was the only one of her kind recorded in Australian waters.

Despite her uniqueness Summer, like all other turtles cared for at the aquarium, will be released.

"Whilst it is rare and amazing, that's not a reason for wanting to keep her here on display," Mr Nucifora told AAP.

The turtle hospital has cared for more than 200 of the reptiles since opening seven years ago.

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