Cairns Turtle Rehabilitation Centre History
In 2000 Paul Barnes and Jennie Gilbert established the Cairns Turtle Rehabilitation Centre in Cairns, a non-profit organisation.
While they were working at The Undersea World Aquarium, a turtle was brought in with ‘floaters syndrome’ and this was the start of the CTRC. More and more turtles were brought into the aquarium to be rehabilitated by the marine parks rangers and when the aquarium shut down in 2001 the Cairns Turtle Rehabilitation Centre was moved to Tingara Street, in Cairns. Over the years the centre has successfully rehabilitated and released countless turtles.
Currently there are 50-60 volunteers working at the centre. The CTRC operational costs are met by donations from local businesses and the general public. These donations go directly towards the maintenance and feeding of the sick and injured turtles. Each day the turtles are fed, the tanks are cleaned and medication administered when required. The success rate for the rehabilitation of the turtles has gone from 30% to 85% and is now one of the highest success rates in Australia.
About Our Turtles
The Sea Turtles are brought into the Cairns rehabilitation centre from the Great Barrier Reef and Cape York Peninsula. The most common turtles we see through the rehab centre are the Green turtle and Hawksbill turtle, these turtles can stay in the centre anywhere between 6 to 24 months until they are healthy enough to be released.
Many of the turtles are brought into the rehab centre with an illness called ‘floaters syndrome’ which is an obstruction that occurs in the turtle’s gut causing air to become trapped between the shell and the body, impacting the animal's ability to dive down to the sea grass beds in order to eat. If these turtles are not found they end up starving to death.
The turtles brought down from Cape York suffer horrendous injuries from entanglement in discarded fishing nets. Qantas link fly the turtles down from Cape York to Cairns where they are treated at the rehab centre, once fully recovered these turtles are sent back to the Cape to be released.
At the rehabilitation centre the turtles are fed daily, when the turtles first arrive at the rehab centre their individual food bill is about $150.00 each week. Once the turtle has made a full recovery, a satellite tracker is attached to their shell and we follow the movements of the turtles.
The New Turtle Rehabilitation Centre
We started building on Fitzroy in 2011, and officially opened the new centre in 2013. The owner of Fitzroy Island resort - Doug Gamble has kindly donated us a piece of land in order to extend the rehabilitation centre.
It used to be an aquaculture prawn farm so the area is semi-prepared to hold tanks however the piping for the water to be pumped in and out of the site has taken a long time to find and repair.
CLICK HERE TO MEET OUR TURTLES