Turtle Rescue and Rehabilition Centre

The Yuku Baja Muliku Rangers recognised a need for a rehabilitation centre after Cyclone Yasi severely impacted the turtle feeding grounds off Archer Point and surrounding areas. The emerging sea grass was nearly wiped out and this has caused the local turtle population severe stress.  Thus, they took it upon themselves to establish a rehabilitation centre at Archer Point. Caring for the turtles is a full time job for the rangers and at times, the rangers have received up to three phone calls a week about sick or injured turtles.

Our priority is to make the Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre fully functioning with a long term secure funding base. The Yuku Baja Muliku Rangers are currently supporting the Archer Point Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre in house, through their own personal contributions, subsidies through their ranger program and some small donations. It costs approximately $100.00-150.00 per turtle, per week to feed a turtle at the rehabilitation centre. Money that is donated assists the rangers to improve the facilities, pay for food for the turtles and assists with veterinary costs.

Turtle and dugong play a significant part in indigenous culture and the right to hunt is seen as an assertion of their cultural identity. The animals also hold a high economic value to communities, because they provide food in substitute for meat which is often expensive to obtain. However, the Yuku Baja Muliku people have established a moratorium to prevent hunting, whilst they research the stability of turtles in the area. If the numbers become stable the rangers would like to train the community in sustainable harvesting practices.

More and more turtles are being reported by tourists and local fisherman as either dead or in serious need of rescue, due to starvation and malnourishment. Jenny Gilbert from the Cairns Rehabilitation Unit has provided help and advice and she also organised professional help from the Marlin Coast Veterinary Clinic at Trinity Beach. Doctor Robert Gilbert has given his time and greatly needed medical supplies to support our quest to provide on the spot treatment and rescue for sick and injured turtles.

The Yuku Baja Muliku Rangers have been able to rescue and treat turtles, including those that have been injured by severe boat strike and those with floaters disease. To date the Yuku Baja Muliku Rangers have rescued 16 turtles and 5 have been released. You can see footage of a release on you tube if you search ‘Archer Point Turtle Rescue’. As word of our Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre has spread we have been able to liaise with other indigenous ranger groups, including the Hopevale Rangers who brought us a very sick turtle from Cape Flattery for treatment.

Once the turtle has recovered and before we release it we tag the animals and attach tracking devices so that we can track them. If you would like to view the tracking information you can view it at www.seaturtle.org

We have had tremendous support from DERM Land and Sea Management Fund. Russell Bowman from the Lure shop has been very proactive with fishermen and tourists by ensuring that distressed animals are immediately reported. We are able to mobilise our vessel within 20 minutes of being advised and with very clear instructions we are able to locate the animal instantaneously.

The Yuku Baja Muliku Ranger group has recently been funded to build a much needed Triage Unit. This will be manned 24 hours a day 7 days a week to care for any sick turtles with the guidance and support of Jenny Gilbert and the team from the Cairns Turtle Rehabilitation Centre. A well resourced centre has the potential to service the whole Cape York region.

Turtle Release Archer Point