Raylene, the rehabilitated green turtle released in March after treatment at Reef HQ Aquarium's Turtle Hospital, has safely returned to her home waters south of Home Hill.
by Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority
Raylene was one of six turtles released on The Strand and she wasted no time in swimming more than 200 kilometres to her home feeding grounds off Wunjunga Beach.
The large turtle, who weighs in at 150 kilograms, was treated for floating syndrome for seven months before being deemed fit to return to her natural environment.
Staff at the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) and its education arm, Reef HQ Aquarium, have monitored her progress down the coast with the aid of a satellite tracking device that was attached to her shell before her release.
The satellite transmitter sends a signal when Raylene surfaces and is part of a pilot program funded by the GBRMPA Extreme Weather Recovery Program.
GBRMPA species conservation expert Dr Mark Read said Raylene's release provided the perfect opportunity to test the new technology.
'The study will look at how Raylene uses the habitat and we will also be looking at how effective the equipment is,' Dr Read said.
'Ideally, we would like to define the area Raylene spends all of her time in – her home range.'
'We'll be able to see how she moves around the seagrass beds and we'll then be able to use this information to better understand the impacts of extreme weather events.'
The GBRMPA currently has a team of scientists assessing the effects of tropical cyclone Yasi and the recent Queensland floods on the Great Barrier Reef.
'If we have a situation where critical habitat like seagrass beds is damaged or degraded, we need to know how the animals that rely on that habitat respond to these changes.'
Dr Read said information from the study will be valuable to conservation managers, researchers and coastal residents alike.
'If people know that turtles live in their area it provides a personal connection between people, the habitat, and the animals,' Dr Read said.
'If the satellite battery lasts long enough, we may be able to track Raylene's movements for more than a year and that would be an amazing outcome.'
Great Barroer Reef Marine Park Authority website
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9:44 PM Sat 14 May 2011 GMT
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