Green Sea Turtle dies after being rescued from freshwater lake in Bella Vista

Sunday, June 30, 2019

A Green Sea Turtle has died in care after being found in a freshwater, man-made lake in Bella Vista, in Sydney’s west, over 30km inland from the Tasman Sea.

The juvenile, female turtle was rescued from the lake on Friday afternoon during a joint effort by WIRES, SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium, and the National Parks and Wildlife Service.

Arriving with a boat and wetsuits, SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium display managers Rob Townsend and Hope Nugent entered the lake, pulling the turtle from the water just after 4:30pm.

“On inspection, the turtle appeared very weak, cold, and had trouble swimming,” said Mr Townsend of the Green Sea Turtle, an endangered species.

Mr Townsend and Ms Nugent then took the turtle back to Sydney Aquarium’s rehabilitation facility, where a vet was consulted and the turtle was administered antibiotics and vitamins, and allowed to rest in shallow water.

“Despite our best efforts, unfortunately the turtle died overnight on Saturday,” said Mr Townsend.

“While we do not know how this animal ended up in the lake it is clear that it must have been put there by someone well-meaning or otherwise, and this has lead to the eventual death of this beautiful creature.”

“There’s no way to know how long she was in there but I’d say at least a few days,” added Mr Townsend.

“She had barnacles on her, so she has clearly come from the ocean originally.”

Despite the turtle’s death in care, Mr Townsend says the rescue was vital to give the turtle a chance at survival.

“Freshwater is not too bad for sea turtles, but the lower temperature out there compared to ocean temperatures would have killed her eventually,” he said.

“Unfortunately WIRES has seen an increase in cases being brought to our attention of animals being taken from the wild or displaced,” added Zoe Harrison, manager of the WIRES Rescue Office.

WIRES was notified of the case on Friday afternoon, June 28.

“Between 12pm and 3pm we received several reports of a large turtle swimming very slowly in the lake,” said Ms Harrison.

“By the end of the first call, one member of public, who works in the area, said he thought the turtle was dead, but we had asked him for a photo of the turtle and when he went back out to get a photo, the turtle had disappeared.”

WIRES then contacted Sea Life Sydney Aquarium and the Scheyville Office of the National Parks and Wildlife Service.

Alongside NPWS Cumberland ranger Cameron Wade, WIRES North West volunteers Roma Price, Salina Giovenco-Ellem, and Teneale Hayes attended the scene, getting a visual on the animal until Sydney Aquarium could assist.

WIRES says the rescue is a reminder to the public to never interfere with wild animals, and to always call wildlife experts if concerned about an animal.

Native animals including sea turtles are protected, and anyone with information about the illegal trade in wildlife should contact the National Parks and Wildlife Service on 1300 072757.

If you suspect an animal has been displaced, or if you come across a sick, injured, or orphaned animal, do not touch it, and call WIRES immediately on 1300 094 737.


Photos and videos available on request.

Media Contacts:

SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium

Rachel Anker

0404 677 020

9333 9205

[email protected]


Elena Wewer

0428 444 132

8977 3327

[email protected]

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