Call to keep an eye out as storms strand turtles on Peel beaches

Locals have been warned to keep an eye on turtles washing up on local beaches, as the recent rains flush out the Peel-Harvey estuary and other marine areas.

Bouvard Coast Care Group and local fauna relocator Alison Dixon shared the information after a Melros resident shared a photo of a baby loggerhead turtle which had washed up on Melros Beach.

“It’s a loggerhead turtle, but there have been reports of hawksbills washing up on shore as well,” Ms Dixon said.

“They could wash up anywhere from the north to the south at this point.”

Ms Dixon said the recent rains had washed a large amount of freshwater from the estuary, while the rising sea temperature was making it more likely the usually subtropical animals would be found further south.

“In the past it would be very rare to find turtles washing up on the shore down this far,” Ms Dixon said.

“But as sea temperatures rise, the area in which they feed increases, and then with storms like the one we’ve just had, the strong currents push them right out of their habitat.

“It’s a shame, because they end up somewhere where they don’t know where they are, where food is or how to get back. so they end up stranded on the beach.”

Ms Dixon said anyone who finds turtles washed ashore to call her on 0401 314 701 or the Wildcare Helpline on 9474 9055.

Ms Dixon said  to only approach beached turtles them if they appear to be in distress, and to keep them in a damp, warm environment while transporting.

“Keeping them warm is their saviour, most deaths on beaches are either from starvation or heat loss," Ms Dixon said.

“And while there’s only been a few babies reported so far, don’t be too surprised if you start seeing some of the bigger fellas washing up.”