AFA is deeply concerned over the plight of turtles who are part and parcel of the magnificent diversity of the Great Barrier Reef.
The mortality of turtles in Queensland over the last two years is horrifying. As of April this year, the total for 2011 and 2012 is 3,249 animals, 73% being Green turtles.
Indigenous hunting continues to be arguably the largest source of uncertainty in estimating anthropogenic mortality of marine turtles in Queensland according to the Queensland government.
This is an outrageous situation. AFA is aware that many turtles are being slaughtered in cruel and unsustainable ways by indigenous people. A large percentage of these kills are illegal but with almost no Rangers left in Queensland, illegal hunting is put in the too hard basket.
No one knows the full extent of mortality. What we do know is that in the face of these appalling figures, all killing of turtles should be stopped immediately. Green turtles are already on the brink of extinction.
Turtles are also suffering from a dreadful disease known as fibropapilloma virus.
The fibropapillomas virus may cause blindness, immobility, the obstruction of internal organs and death among green turtles
Research conducted so far shows that over half the turtles in Brisk Bay, south of Townsville, have the virus, compared to just 5% outside the bay.
Turtles with FP have external tumors that may grow so large and hanging as to hamper swimming, vision, feeding, and potential escape from predators. These lesions have been reported in all sea turtle species except in leatherbacks (Dermochelys coriacea). For an unknown reason, the frequency of FP is much higher in green turtles (Chelonia mydas) than in other species. The size of the tumor varies from less than the size of a pea to larger than a grapefruit. The number of tumors per turtle can be as many as 70 and they can be internal as well as external.
The photo above gives a good indication of what an affected turtle looks like. Whilst the authorities claim all sorts of reasons for the disease, it demonstrates that the turtle’s immune system is compromised , pointing to an unhealthy habitat with problems in the seagrass beds on which the animals feed. There is no cure so far for this debilitating, life threatening disease,
Take a good look at the photo of a healthy turtle and compare with this poor sick fellow.
The death toll of marine animals along the Great Barrier Reef is a national scandal.