Turtle rots alive after being caught in crab pot
CONFRONTING images of a turtle caught in a crab pot have reinforced the importance of a back-to-basics approach to preserving an internationally recognised natural wonder.
Caloundra Jet Ski owner Ken Jeffreys has seen the best and worst of human impact on the Pumicestone Passage on a daily basis for the past six years.
Mr Jeffreys runs tours of the passage up to five times a day, taking guests from Bulcock Beach as far south as the southern end of Bribie Island.
He said a green turtle rescued about two months ago at the southern end of the passage showed there was a lot of work still to do when it came to responsible use of the area.
The animal, which Mr Jeffreys said weighed between 80kg and 100kg, was caught up in ropes attached to a crab pot.
"I put it on my rescue board," Mr Jeffreys said.
"It took a couple of hours to get it back into the shore at Torbul."
Rope had tightened around one of its flippers, trapping it for what Mr Jeffreys believed had been weeks.
The flipper had rotted to the bone by the time Mr Jeffreys found it.
"I had to cut away the ropes that were holding her in one spot.
"She was in a pretty bad way.
"It was pretty traumatic."
He said Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service arranged for Australia Zoo to come to collect the turtle.
"They took her back to Australia Zoo, performed surgery but unfortunately the necrosis in one of the flippers had spread right through her body to the other side and she didn't make it through the operation."
Mr Jeffreys' observations were not all negative though.
He was pleased to see Queensland Parks and Wildlife officers doing compliance checks on crab pots since then and had noticed a reduction in plastic rubbish.
"For all of those people that made the sacrifice of giving up their single-use plastic bags... the impact has been seen on Pumicetone Passage.
"It has made an enormous contribution.
"I know it did upset a lot of people but the sacrifice has been worth it."
He said preserving the passage required a back-to-basics approach.
"This is not an esoteric environmental campaign.
"It's about when you lay a crab pot that you make sure that you abide by the regulations.
"The regulations are there to protect the wildlife."
Mr Jeffreys also suggested alternatives to plastic for bait bags.
"Maybe we can be a little bit more cautious and careful about the fishing line that we leave in the water.
"This is grassroots that we need to be involved with."
He said seeing stickers encouraging cafes to allow people to fill their water bottles rather than buying another plastic bottle was a good sign.
"We don't need new regulations and new laws.
"We just need to love the place."
The passage is part of Moreton Bay's internationally-recognised Ramsar wetland listing.
There are 64 other sites listed in Australia and more than 2300 worldwide.
The Ramsar Convention aims to halt the worldwide loss of wetlands and to conserve, through wise use and management, those that remain.
Mr Jeffreys said that listing could be capitalised on an environmental and commercial sense.
He said the area's birdlife made it a Mecca for birdwatchers and the close proximity to Bribie meant people could paddle across to explore their "treasure island".
"Don't think this is about locking things up.
"This is about preserving something that is potentially transformational for Caloundra.
"It can lift Caloundra from being an affordable holiday destination to being a very, very desirable place to spend your time."