Local community comes to the rescue of green sea turtle trio
A CANNONVALE family kicked into gear to spearhead a rather unusual rescue mission when they spotted three large turtles on Cannonvale Beach on Saturday afternoon.
Leianne and Dwaine Reha and children Alana, 8, and Marcus, 6, were on a family outing when they sighted what appeared to be large rocks on the beach that hadn't been there before.
On closer inspection, they realised the rocks were in fact sea turtles who had been left by the outgoing tide to bask along the beach approximately 150m from the water.
Mrs Reha said the largest turtle had sunk so far into the heavy sand that it couldn't move itself out, so the family snapped into action.
Mr Reha, Alana and Marcus stayed with the turtles while Mrs Reha ran, despite broken screws in her back following major surgery six years ago, to find help.
The Reha family engaged the assistance of staff from Fat Frog Cafe and local passers-by to guide two of the turtles back to the water.
The third and largest turtle had to be dug out by Mr Reha then hoisted by a team of six, who used a blanket under the belly, to lift the turtle into a pool of shallow water until the tide came in.
Mrs Reha said she didn't stop to consider her back, she just ran.
"I wasn't going to leave those creatures for any longer than I had to. They were there for probably an hour before we got there,” she said.
"At that moment in time, we just thought 'we've got to get them out and back in the water'.”
Founder chair of Eco Barge Clean Seas Inc Libby Edge identified the turtles as basking green sea turtles, which was normal behaviour for this time of year due to lower water temperatures, but praised the locals who got involved and nursed them.
"I love that the family and the community gave so much love and concern to those turtles. I'm really proud. They did a great job.” Ms Edge said.
"If anyone's in doubt, or thinks a turtle could be sick or injured, they should call 1300ANIMAL (1300264625) and we can talk them through what to do.”
Ms Edge said barnacles or algae can be a sign of a sick or injured sea turtle, but when basking, their eyes appear to be crying which allows them to retain moisture.
Mrs Reha expressed her gratitude to the Fat Frog Cafe staff and community locals who assisted to carry the largest turtle back to the water and nurse it.
"I'm really grateful that they came out to assist us,” she said.
"When the tide came in we had to get up on the rocks near the Cannonvale mangroves otherwise we would have been stranded, but we stayed until we saw the turtle swimming away and waited till it took a few breaths.
"It doesn't matter what people might say, whether they think we did the wrong thing or not.
"It's not in me to keep walking by and let someone else deal with it.
"You don't know how long it would have taken for help to come by if they were dehydrating.”