World Turtle Day – Turtles In The Spotlight

World Turtle Day is celebrated annually on 23 May and is a great day to stop, pause and think about the world’s turtle species. Many species are under threat and you can help out by adopting a turtle or making a donation to a turtle rescue centre.

Did you know there are seven species of sea turtle in the world? Six of which live in the warm waters of the Great Barrier Reef on Queensland’s north-eastern coastline where encounters with Green, Hawksbill and Loggerhead Turtles is not uncommon.

The seven species are: Flatback sea turtle, Green sea turtle, Hawksbill sea turtle, Kemp’s Ridley sea turtle, Leatherback sea turtle, Loggerhead sea turtle and Olive Ridley sea turtle.

Turtles have existed in our world’s oceans for over 100 million years, these ancient mariners instil a sense of peace and calm in divers and snorkelers, whenever they are lucky enough to encounter them in their marine homes.

World Turtle Day was launched 12 years ago by the American Tortoise Rescue, who themselves were founded in 1990. American Tortoise Rescue work predominately with land tortoises, however, World Turtle Day has spread around the world and celebrates both land and water turtles.

The aim of the day is to promote respect for turtles and tortoises globally, and to encourage humans to behave in a way that helps these special creatures survive and thrive.

On Australia’s northern Great Barrier Reef the sea turtles have suffered from the effects of cyclones and flooding in recent years, with many of their sea grass beds adversely affected. So there has never been a better time to stop, pause and think about how we can help our flippered friends out.

In Cairns, we have our own turtle rehabilitation centre, a not-for-profit organisation committed to the care and rehabilitation of sick or injured sea turtles brought in from the Great Barrier Reef and Cape York Peninsula.

The Cairns Turtle Rehabilitation Centre (CTRC) was founded in 2000 and has cared for hundreds of turtles since then. Its facility at Portsmith can nurse up to 15 turtles at a time. With growing demand, the group recently expanded operations to include a new centre on Fitzroy Island, which took in its first two turtle patients earlier this month.

Cairns’ Fiztroy Island turtle rehabilitation centre will enable the turtles to be released straight back on to the Great Barrier Reef, without further transport. It was made possible thanks to the donation of the land by Fitzroy Island Resort and many other generous donations, including $20,000 from the World Wildlife Fund.

The Cairns Fiztroy Island turtle rehabilitation centre will not officially open until July 2012 and when it’s fully operational, CTRC will be able to care for up to 50 turtles at a time.

So, how can you help celebrate World Turtle Day 2012 and help our flippered friends? There are a few ways and suggestions, as follows:

Donate to the Cairns Turtle Rehabilitation Centre.

Adopt a turtle through World Wildlife Fund Australia.

Raise the profile of turtles in your area with The Wilderness Society. It’s as simple as building a sand turtle on your local beach (or sand pit) taking a picture and submitting to the society before Wednesday 23 May 2012. For more information, please visit

At Cairns Dive Adventures, we may do all three, because we love our sea turtles and would do anything to help them out and ensure they are still here for the enjoyment of our future generations.



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