Sea turtle rescued after ingesting five fishing hooks has been released

The radiograph revealed five hooks throughout the sea turtle’s body.

A FEMALE green sea turtle, rescued from the Nelson Bay Marina on 4 January after ingesting a fishhook, has now been rehabilitated and released back into the ocean.

Sea Shelter wildlife rescuers were alerted to the plight of the turtle by members of the public.

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“A couple of young boys had been fishing when they actually hooked the turtle and pulled it in,” said Lia Pereira, marketing manager and part of the marine rescue team for Sea Shelter, the ocean conservation group affiliated with Irukandji Shark and Ray Encounters.

“They were unsure as to what to do next, but fortunately we were nearby when they contacted us.”

The experienced team promptly rescued the animal and took it to Nelson Bay Vet for assessment, where radiographs were collected to determine where the hook was lodged.

“We were so shocked to discover that she had not one but five hooks lodged at various positions within the gastrointestinal tract,” said veterinarian Dr Kathryn Stalder.

“She was at significant risk of life threatening obstruction and intestinal rupture.”

The turtle was transported to Taronga Zoo for treatment and rehabilitation.

The expert veterinary team at Taronga Wildlife Hospital were able to nurse the turtle back to health and successfully release her with the assistance of NSW Police Maritime unit and NSW National Parks and Wildlife on Friday 14 April.

The turtle, affectionately known as ‘5 Hooks’, has been fitted with a radio tracking device attached to her shell so that her movements and the outcome of her release can be monitored.

The Taronga Zoo Wildlife Hospital team have released a Facebook post urging anglers to dispose of all used fishing hooks and line appropriately to minimise the risk to marine life.

“We’d like to encourage people fishing to take as much care as they can to retrieve their lines, because creatures like turtles can ingest them so easily,” Lia added.

“We also encourage all people who fish not to use stainless steel hooks as they do not degrade and remain a danger for far longer.”

If you find an injured marine animal locally, please contact the Sea Shelter team on (02) 4982 2476, or report to NSW National Parks and Wildlife.

Local vets are happy to receive and assess injured wildlife and arrange further care.

By Lindsay HALL

‘5 Hooks’ being released.

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