CQUni arranges for Science Experience students to witness release of loggerhead turtle

Published:16 October 2019

Staff members releasing a healthy turtle in the sand

CQUni staff visited Quoin Island, off Gladstone, to witness the Turtle Rehabilitation Facility release a healthy turtle, in the presence of 50 high school students involved in a ConocoPhillips Science Experience.

Around 50 high school students involved in a ConocoPhillips Science Experience at CQUniversity Gladstone had a special opportunity this week to witness the release of a loggerhead sea turtle from the Quoin Island Turtle Rehabilitation Centre.

Quoin Island Retreat manager Richard Gilmour said the turtle - nicknamed 'Chomper' - was rehabilitated for release after being found in Gladstone Harbour.

Six weeks ago, the turtle was found floating, covered in barnacles and parasites, and needing a little bit of tender loving care and plenty of squid and pilchards to get her turned around for release.

"Loggerhead turtles are listed as an endangered species and at Quoin Island Turtle Rehabilitation centre, we don’t see many loggerheads pass by, with only four being loggerheads out of the 251 turtles we have seen through our centre since inception," Mr Gilmour said.

CQUniversity's Coastal Marine Ecosystem Research Centre (CMERC) Interim Director, Dr Emma Jackson, said the special release helped the students to recognise the value of the harbour's marine ecosystems.

"Seeing these animals in a rehabilitation centre is perhaps the first time some of these people will get to see them," Dr Jackson said.

"For many people this will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience."

CQUniversity's Associate Vice-Chancellor (Gladstone Region), Professor Owen Nevin said he hoped the marine day trip, which has been running for five years, would inspire some of the students to look into careers in STEM.

ConocoPhillips has supported Quoin Island with veterinary costs and food bills since 2013.

Students involved in the ConocoPhillips Science Experience also took part in activities including water monitoring and creation of artworks.