‘Death trap’: Hidden danger threatens Bay wildlife
A LARGE loggerhead turtle has washed up dead on a Hervey Bay beach after becoming entangled in rope on a sunken boat wreck off Torquay.
Wildlife Rescue Fraser Coast co-ordinator Natalie Richardson said the entangled turtle was reported to the rescue hotline midmorning on Friday.
The turtle was described as very large and, having a rope from the wreck caught around its neck, it was struggling to surface to breathe.
"Two of our experienced turtle rescue volunteers were immediately dispatched to the location, but before they arrived a member of the public had swum down and cut the rope to free the turtle," Ms Richardson said.
"We were told the turtle was OK and had no injuries and had been last seen swimming away without any problems.
"However, we received a phone call later that night that a large sea turtle had washed up on the beach at the Urangan Pier.
"Again, our two volunteers attended immediately but sadly, the turtle was deceased.
"It had a length of rope wrapped around its neck, front left flipper and rear right flipper.
"This would have made it extremely difficult to swim, and surface clearly for air, and the turtle likely drowned through exhaustion."
A WRFC volunteer snorkelled the boat wreck the following day to obtain samples of ropes attached to the wreck.
They appear to match the rope that ensnared the turtle.
The original caller who sighted the entangled turtle at the boat also confirmed it was the same individual after seeing photos of the dead animal.
Ms Richardson fears that more marine life will suffer unless the wreck is removed or at the very least, cleared of entanglement risks.
"There are metres and metres of ropes, electrical cables, a mass of netting, old clothes, and disintegrating plastics - all of which pose entanglement or ingestion risks to our marine life," Ms Richardson said.
"It is an absolute mess, and it's astounding that it has been allowed to remain left in situ and unattended to.
"If the equivalent had been found on shore it would have been addressed and removed.
"This beautiful turtle was a mature adult male loggerhead weighing 104kg and his shell alone was one metre long.
"He had survived one in 1000 odds to become an adult, and lived in the ocean for decades, until he made the unfortunate decision to seek food or shelter around this wreck.
"All species of turtles are listed as threatened species, with loggerheads having endangered status.
"For every individual lost, it is not just it that is gone, it's all the future generations that animal would have helped produce - i.e. all its potential offspring are now gone too.
"As guardians of the ocean and its inhabitants we should be ashamed that this death trap has been allowed to sit here for so long."
It's believed the boat had been anchored off Torquay beach since 2018, before sinking in March this year.
Marine turtle strandings or concerns can be reported to the Department of Environment on 1300 130 372 and follow the prompts (or alternatively Wildlife Rescue Fraser Coast).
Both numbers are 24 hour contacts.
WRFC is a 24 hour, 365 day voluntary service for the rescue and care of all species of wildlife - mammals, birds and reptiles.
They can be contacted on 4121 3146.