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Critically injured Hawksbill Turtle swimming towards recovery in Sydney’s animal rescue centre

  • Wednesday 17th February 2021
  • Conservation, Turtle


Small, covered in barnacles and fighting for her life – that was the way a young and critically endangered Hawksbill Turtle was found by our team here at SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium late last year after receiving a tip-off from the public.

The 4kg turtle, named Avalon after the beach she was seen floating off in NSW, was barely responsive in mid-November when the team picked her up and rushed her back to the aquarium’s Animal Rescue Centre for emergency treatment. Fortunately, she is now on the road to recovery and there are hopes that one day she will swim back into the wild.

“When we first saw her, we didn’t think she would pull through,” said Kellie Carmody, SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium’s on-site Vet Nurse. “She was in quite a critical state and it was really important that we moved quickly so that we would be able to turn her health around in a positive direction.”


Using resources available inside our Animal Rescue Centre – one of only two centres licensed to rehabilitate turtles in Sydney – the team took bloods and conducted X-Rays to discover the young Hawksbill suffering from extreme dehydration, a severe infection and congested intestines. She was also covered in groups of crustaceans called barnacles that can cause discomfort and reflect poor health in turtles.

Our team of experts put Avalon on fluids and antibiotics as well as other supplements. Within a few weeks, she was responding positively to her treatments and heading towards recovery.

“After a few doses, Avalon was able to lift her head and respond to treatments,” explained Kellie. “The barnacles started dropping away and her intestines have now cleared up.”

Although far from a full recovery, her carers are thrilled to see her on the road to restoring her health and hope that one day they will be able to return her to her home in the wild.

“It’s great to see her get her fight back,” said Saskia McDonald, SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarist and one of Avalon’s daily carers. “It’s really important to us that we get her back into good health and give her a good chance at returning to the ocean so that she can contribute to repopulating her critically endangered species.”

Once Avalon has completed her recovery and been cleared by our veterinary team a suitable location will be chosen for her release to the wild in accordance with our licence from NSW National Parks and Wildlife. 

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