SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium Return Sea Turtles to the Ocean

Posted By : The Animal Facts Editorial Team

Date: April 21, 2022 9:40 pm

Sea Turtle Releases SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium

SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium team member, Laetisha Hannon releases a loggerhead sea turtle to the wild at Zenith Beach

Photo Credit: SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium

SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium have released three sea turtles to the wild following their rehabilitation. Avalon, a hawksbill turtle and Warnie and Cuttler, two Loggerhead Turtles were sent back to their home at Zenith Beach.

The hawksbill sea turtle is a critically endangered species making each individual precious. Avalon was found washed up at Avalon Beach in Sydney’s Northern Beaches on November 18 2020. A member of the public called the SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium rescue hotline. 

She was in extremely poor condition weighing just 3.8kg. Upon examination she was found to be extremely malnourished and underweight, dehydrated and lethargic, with a high volume of biofouling; barnacles, algae growth, etc. indicating she had likely been adrift for a long time.

When she was first collected by the SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium rescue team it was unclear if she would survive. It took intensive care for her to pull through.

The team of Aquarists, led by SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium Curatorial Supervisor Ben Wynand, and the in-house veterinary team, focussed on her feeding, her swimming ability and patiently improving her overall body condition.


Wynand said “At SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium, we take care of turtles in-house, who can no longer be released and become ambassadors for their species. In this instance we were able to apply our skillset to a wild animal, to care for her, bring her back to good health and return her to her natural home in the wild.


“This was a great success. We love to get them home and give them a second chance at life. It means the world to our team!”

Avalon has now had a massive glow up weighing in at 13.6kg. Recently she was deemed fit and healthy making her ready for release. Zenith Beach is the most southerly location where a Hawksbill turtle can be released as per strict codes of practice and information provided by NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) Fisheries, who SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium often partners with on sea life rescue projects.

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Alongside Avalon the aquarium released two loggerhead sea turtles, Cutler, found on Cutler Beach in Gippsland, VIC and Warnie, found in Warrnambool, VIC. The pair have been under the care of SEA LIFE Melbourne Aquarium. Both were found needing urgent care in late 2021.

Both of these turtles were found to be suffering from 'floated syndrome.' This condition leads to turtles being positively buoyant at the surface of the water and prevents them from being able to dive under the water and hunt for food. Extreme storms occurred along Australia's east coast in the weeks before their rescue. It is thought they were caught in this. This would have caused a drop in their temperature and led to the floating syndrome.

“Loggerhead sea turtles are not commonly found this far south, and the vast majority that end up in southern Victoria are here because they are either caught in strong storms or currents, or they are very weak from an underlying illness or injury” explained Dr Brett De Poister, consulting veterinarian.

At SEA LIFE Melbourne Aquarium the pair responded well to care including rehydration, acclimating them back to optimal temperatures, nutritional support and of course TLC from the aquarists and veterinary team. Fortunately both Warnie and Cuttler were rescued soon after they arrived in Victoria and made a speedy recovery.

When they were deemed fit for release the pair were flown to Sydney where they could find warmer waters. They spent a few weeks at SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium before being released to the wild.

SEA LIFE rescue a number of sea turtles across their facilities each year. These act as ambassadors for their wild cousins during their time in rehabilitation.

Learn more about Hawksbill Turtles here - Hawksbill Turtle Fact File | The Animal Facts

Learn more about SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium on their website – SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium

Sea Turtle Releases SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium

Avalon the Hawksbill sea turtle is seen soon after her rescue by SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium

Photo Credit: SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium

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