'Dori' the turtle's long recovery after choking and stabbing
WHEN Dori the green turtle arrived at the Quoin Island Turtle Rehabilitation Centre two and half years ago she was in a lot of trouble.
Weighing 70kg she had lost half her bodyweight, was struggling to breathe and had also been stabbed.
Centre manager Bob McCosker said it took surgery, daily care and nearly $30,000 worth of squid to get her back on her flippers again.
"We initially thought she had a chest infection," he said.
"But x-rays revealed a piece of mollusc shell stuck in her throat cutting off her air supply.
"We had to have it surgically removed, but three months later Dori fell ill again.
"That's when we found the stab wound."
Dori's shell had been punctured just behind her head by a knife which had just missed her spine.
"The wound had caused a massive infection inside her and it took another 18 months for us to get her through that," Mr McCosker said.
"It takes turtles a long time to heal, but they fight so hard to stay alive.
"We hand fed her nearly a thousand dollars worth of squid a month but she has doubled her body weight.
"She weighs 140kg now which is the ideal weight for an adult green turtle."
Two and half years after being pulled from Gladstone Harbour near the Clinton coal wharves, Dori was ready to be returned to the wild.
"Sharing an eight by four metre swimming pool is not where turtles want to be," Mr McCosker said.
"So it's her lucky day, Dori gets to go back into the ocean."
After being fondly farewelled by her carers Dori was released into the harbour.
Mr McCosker said she would be missed, but another turtle had already taken her place.
"Our most recent arrival is 'Denise', from Keppel Island," he said.
"She's been hit by a propeller and has a missing front flipper and tail, slashed throat and is missing an eyelid.
"The vet, Greg Muir, did an excellent job of stitching her up."
Denise will join the eight other turtles currently being cared for.
"Of the 220 turtles we've received since 2012, we've been able to rehabilitate 120 of them back into the wild," Mr McCosker said.
"Our longest term resident is Frankie who had been hit on the head with a claw hammer three years ago.
"He had a massive concussion and we're trying different anti-inflammatories to get his brain swelling down."
Mr McCosker can't understand why anyone would want to hurt sea turtles.
"They're so gentle and beautiful they're like the labradors of the sea," he said.
"But the bulk of their injuries have been caused by humans.
"It's not the professional fisherman either, the single biggest danger to turtles are recreational fishermen.
"The bulk of their injuries are boat strikes, or they've been entangled in discarded fishing lines or old crab pot float lines.
"It can take them months to starve to death.
"I can't stress enough to local boaties, if you hit a turtle or see one that is ill or injured, go back, check it, pick it up or let us know.
"Call 0408431304 immediately.
"We're here to help turtles, but our main aim is to educate people to help them."
Mr McCosker said it costs approximately $300,000 a year to run the rehab centre.
"Dori ate about about a thousand dollars of squid each month," he said.
"She's one of ten turtles here, so it adds up.
"We wouldn't be able to stay open without the generous donations from companies like Conoco Philips and RC Marine.
"Plus vet Dr Greg Muir from Alma St Veterinary Hospital has been awesome.
"He does all our work for free, often missing out on paying customers to selflessly help the wildlife."
To learn more, visit the Quoin Island Turtle Rehabilitation Centre's website.