by Peter Carruthers
BY THE time you read this story, Cooper will be swimming free once again in the beautiful waters of the Whitsundays.
Cooper, a critically endangered hawksbill turtle, has made a full recovery after spending two months in rehabilitation at the Whitsunday Turtle Rescue Centre in Muddy Bay.
The team, including founding member of Eco Barge Clean Seas, Libby Edge, headed to the islands to release Cooper back into the wild last Friday.
Cooper was found floating in Hook Passage by Boab Boats crew member, Glen Cowling in October.
Mr Cowling took Cooper back to the mainland and he was delivered safely to the Whitsunday Turtle Rescue Centre.
Cooper is the tenth turtle to receive care at the the centre during 2017 and is one of seven to be successfully released this year.
Eco Barge workers have had a busy year, removing more than 21,000kg of marine debris from the region and preventing 1,192 kilograms of local rubbish from entering waterways.
The Eco Barge crew also counted and sorted more than 47,868 individual pieces of marine debris and litter, and provided the data to the Australian Marine Debris Initiative.
All this was made possible thanks to the help of more than 400 volunteers and supporters of Eco Barge Clean Seas.
If you see a sick or injured marine turtle, phone 1300ANIMAL.
To find out more about Eco Barge Clean Seas and the Whitsunday Turtle Rescue Centre, visit www.ecobargeclean seas.org.au.