Status of marine turtle rehabilitation in Queensland

Flint, Jaylene, Flint, Mark, Limpus, Colin James and Mills, Paul (2017) Status of marine turtle rehabilitation in Queensland. PeerJ, 2017 3: . doi:10.7717/peerj.3132

Author Flint, Jaylene
Flint, Mark
Limpus, Colin James
Mills, Paul
Title Status of marine turtle rehabilitation in Queensland
Journal name PeerJ   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 2167-8359
Publication date 2017-03-28
Year available 2017
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.7717/peerj.3132
Open Access Status DOI
Volume 2017
Issue 3
Total pages 22
Place of publication London, United Kingdom
Publisher PeerJ
Language eng
Subject 2800 Neuroscience
1300 Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
1100 Agricultural and Biological Sciences
Abstract Rehabilitation of marine turtles in Queensland has multifaceted objectives. It treats individual animals, serves to educate the public, and contributes to conservation. We examined the outcome from rehabilitation, time in rehabilitation, and subsequent recapture and restranding rates of stranded marine turtles between 1996 and 2013 to determine if the benefits associated with this practice are cost-effective as a conservation tool. Of 13,854 marine turtles reported as stranded during this 18-year period, 5,022 of these turtles were stranded alive with the remainder verified as dead or of unknown condition. A total of 2,970 (59%) of these live strandings were transported to a rehabilitation facility. Overall, 1,173/2,970 (39%) turtles were released over 18 years, 101 of which were recaptured: 77 reported as restrandings (20 dead, 13 alive subsequently died, 11 alive subsequently euthanized, 33 alive) and 24 recaptured during normal marine turtle population monitoring or fishing activities. Of the turtles admitted to rehabilitation exhibiting signs of disease, 88% of them died, either unassisted or by euthanasia and 66% of turtles admitted for unknown causes of stranding died either unassisted or by euthanasia. All turtles recorded as having a buoyancy disorder with no other presenting problem or disorder recorded, were released alive. In Queensland, rehabilitation costs approximately $1,000 per animal per year admitted to a center, $2,583 per animal per year released, and $123,750 per animal per year for marine turtles which are presumably successfully returned to the functional population. This practice may not be economically viable in its present configuration, but may be more cost effective as a mobile response unit. Further there is certainly benefit giving individual turtles a chance at survival and educating the public in the perils facing marine turtles. As well, rehabilitation can provide insight into the diseases and environmental stressors causing stranding, arming researchers with information to mitigate negative impacts.
Keyword Marine turtle
Sea turtle
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Grant ID LP110100569
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
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