Independent Assessment of Marine Rehabilitation Facilities in the Gladstone region

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1 Independent Assessment of Marine Rehabilitation Facilities in the Gladstone region

2 Contents Executive Summary Introduction and Background Site Visits Future Direction Managing both sites Proposed development of GAWB facility Budget and Expenses Operational Flowchart Appendix One Biodiversity Offset Strategy region Appendix Two Quoin Island Turtle Rehabilitation Centre Appendix Three Gladstone Area Water Board Acronyms References Page 2

3 Executive Summary The Gladstone Ports Corporation Limited (GPC) manages and operates the Port of Gladstone, Queensland s largest multi-commodity port. GPC recently completed a substantial part of a dredging project in Port Curtis, Stage 1A of the Western Basin Dredging and Disposal Project. The purpose of the dredging project was to deepen and widen existing shipping channels and swing basins and create new shipping channels, swing basins and berth pockets. To undertake these dredging activities, GPC must meet a number of environmental conditions, one of which is the development and implementation of a Biodiversity Offset Strategy (BOS). One of the offsets identified within the BOS was to provide funding for the establishment and operation of any marine rehabilitation facilities within the Gladstone region. To facilitate this, GPC requested an independent review of the current marine rehabilitation facilities (of which there are two) located within the BOS region. Whilst the current focus of rehabilitation is sea turtles, ultimately, an overall strategy for all marine animal rehabilitation is required based on the available resources in the region. The Project Team visited the two Sea Turtle rehabilitation facilities that are currently operating in Gladstone - Quoin Island Turtle Rehabilitation Centre (QITRC) and the Gladstone Area Water Board (GAWB). These are both functional facilities that if brought together under an overarching body could provide excellent sea turtle rehabilitation. The establishment of a Capricornia Marine Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation Board (the Board) would oversee and co-ordinate the function of the two existing facilities. If this is not possible then GPC can manage the process as outlined in this report. The report makes a number of recommendations, which should ensure that the Gladstone region s sea turtle rehabilitation program is of the highest level, including improving veterinary oversight of the care of the turtles and the development of Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) that both facilities follow. A suggested list of SOPs is presented. With the two facilities that currently exist, we would recommend the following to prevent duplication. The GAWB hatchery is the best site for an initial triage centre and providing emergency care, while the QITRC is the best site for the long-term rehabilitation of sea turtles. QITRC will also be responsible for their release upon recovery. A list of essential equipment, that must be present at both of these facilities, is provided as well as a discussion on the staffing of the facilities. Properly trained local volunteers (some of which already exist) could reduce this level of staffing as well as the use of tertiary students as part of their work experience programs, externships etc. Page 3

4 The GAWB hatchery is to be re-located within the next few years due to proposed local developments of the current site. This presents a unique opportunity for the Board or GPC to design a new rehabilitation facility of the highest standard. It is envisaged that some of the BOS funds would go to the physical building of this facility. A list of areas (rooms) is presented that would need to be incorporated into this new facility Finally, a flowchart is presented that outlines the steps from the initial location of stranded or injured wildlife by a member of the public through to its eventual release back to wild. Project Team Dr Rob Jones The Aquarium Vet (Project Leader) Dr Mandy Paterson Principal Scientist, RSPCA Queensland Dr Mick Guinea Specialist Turtle Biologist, Charles Darwin University Mr Rob Townsend Life Sciences Manager, Manly Sea Life Sanctuary Page 4

5 1. Introduction and Background Gladstone is a coastal city in Queensland approximately 525 kilometres north of Brisbane. In the past few decades, it has become an increasingly important industrial port, mainly due to the increased Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) or Coal Seam Gas industry and coal mining. The Gladstone Ports Corporation Limited (GPC) (ABN ) manages and operates the Port of Gladstone, including the Gladstone Marina and its recreational parklands. The Port of Gladstone is Queensland s largest multi-commodity port, housing the world s fourth largest coal export terminal. Port land and facilities are located at various sites within the port precinct with a total of 4,321 hectares of land under GPC control, which includes more than 700 hectares of reclaimed land. GPC recently completed a substantial part of a dredging project in Port Curtis, Stage 1A of the Western Basin Dredging and Disposal Project (WBDDP). The purpose of the dredging project was to deepen and widen existing shipping channels and swing basins and create new shipping channels, swing basins and berth pockets. To undertake these dredging activities, GPC must meet a number of environmental conditions, one of which is the development and implementation of a Biodiversity Offset Strategy (BOS). The BOS was developed to provide for the long-term conservation of threatened and migratory species, including their habitats that may be impacted by activities associated with the WBDDP. The BOS was approved in July Two of the offsets identified within the BOS are: to provide funding to support Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service (QPWS) for the collection and transport of stranded marine animals to provide funding for the establishment and operation of any marine rehabilitation facilities within the Gladstone region These two offsets have now been combined. To facilitate these offset requirements, GPC requested an independent review of the current marine rehabilitation facilities (of which there are two) located within the BOS region (see Appendix One). The report is to outline capital (i.e. equipment and facilities) and/or operational (resources, processes, protocols) requirements to enhance the operations of these facilities. GPC required clear guidance on prioritising the capital and operational requirements, and how the rehabilitation facilities could complement each other s operations. Whilst the current focus of rehabilitation at present is sea turtles, ultimately, an overall strategy for all marine animal rehabilitation is required based on the available resources in the region. Much of this interest occurred because there was a major spike in marine animal stranding along the east coast of Queensland (including the Gladstone region) in 2011 following cyclones and floods Page 5

6 Six of the seven marine turtle species occur within Australian waters and are all listed as critically endangered through to vulnerable, under the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and Australia s Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act (EPBC Act). The endemic Flatback turtle (Natator depressus) nests on the eastern beaches of Curtis Island, Facing Island and Hummock Hill Island (all within the BOS region see Appendix One). Green Sea turtles (Chelonia mydas) and Loggerhead turtles (Caretta caretta) also nest in similar areas, but less commonly and at lower densities. Some turtles also nest on mainland beaches such as Tannum Sands, Boyne Island and Canoe Point. To date four species of sea turtle have been rescued from Port Curtis and the environs, extending from Yeppoon to Bundaberg: Green Sea turtles (C. mydas) feed on seagrass, algae and the fruits and leaves of mangroves (Limpus 2008). The protected shallow water environments and embayment are popular habitats for this species. They are prone to the adverse influences of freshwater influx after heavy rain killing the algae and seagrass and to collisions with boat traffic in these protected waters. Hawksbill turtles (Eretmochelys imbricate) feed on a variety of benthic organisms including sponges, corals, algae and sea grasses (Limpus 2009). This diversity may make them less prone then green turtles to the effects of adverse weather. They are less common than are green turtles in the bays and estuaries, but present on coral encrusted headlands and rocky reefs adjacent to river mouths. Flatback turtles (N. depressus) are carnivorous, feeding on soft bodied organisms such as molluscs e.g. squid and cuttlefish, coelenterates e.g. sea pens, jellyfish and soft corals and holothurians (Limpus 2007). They may occupy deeper channels where their food species may be more reliable and the animals themselves are less prone to boat-strike. Loggerhead turtles (C. caretta) are carnivorous feeding on gastropod and bivalve molluscs and crabs (Limpus 2008). They inhabit coastal water and feed at the depths determined by the abundance of prey. In the Gladstone region, there are several key potential impacts to turtles and other marine animals. These include: Habitat disturbance (increased sedimentation and turbidity) due to construction of LNG facilities, dredging etc. and habitat destruction Noise and vibration from dredging, trenching and sheet piling during construction Underwater noise and vibration generated by increased vessel activity Boat strike due to increased vessel movement causing injury and mortalities Page 6

7 2. Site Visits The Project Team met with Dr Megan Ellis (Marine Scientist for GPC) and Dr Daniel Spooner (Environmental Leader for Western Basin LNG Dredging) on Tuesday February 18 th., 2014, at the GPC offices. At this meeting, Drs Ellis and Spooner presented the background to the Project and information about GPC and the BOS. On Wednesday February 19 th 2014, the Project team visited the two Sea Turtle rehabilitation facilities that are currently operating in Gladstone. Details of the visits to these sites - Quoin Island Turtle Rehabilitation Centre and the Gladstone Area Water Board - are below. It must be noted that, although Dr. Ellis facilitated and escorted the Project team on its visit to each site, she was not present at any of the discussions with the facility managers or owners. Figure 1 - Map of Port Curtis showing the locations of the Quoin Island Turtle Rehabilitation Centre and the hatchery of the Gladstone Area Water Board. 2.1 Quoin Island Turtle Rehabilitation Centre Quoin Island Turtle Rehabilitation Centre (QITRC) was the first permanent marine turtle rehabilitation facility in the Gladstone area. QITRC was built by a very successful local businessperson, Mr Bob McCosker, who saw a deficiency in the region for the rehabilitation of stranded sea turtles. It opened in March Page 7

8 Previously there had been no dedicated rehabilitation facility within the Gladstone region. Sick and injured sea turtles were transported to Australia Zoo, some 460 kilometres south of Gladstone. Mr McCosker had many years of experience as a volunteer wildlife carer, and with the support of Australian Animals Care and Education Inc (AACE), he constructed the QITRC on his property. For details of AACE, see <http://www.aaceproject.com>. QITRC is licenced to rehabilitate up to ten sea turtles at any one time. As part of the permit, issued by the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection (DEHP), the public are not allowed to view the turtles. Mr McCosker provides ongoing financial support and combined with corporate sponsorship, fundraising, volunteer support and the annual QITRC Gala Benefit, covers the extensive costs associated with running this facility. To reduce costs, many of the duties associated with the turtle rehabilitation processes are undertaken by a group of community volunteers. The Australia Pacific Liquid Natural Gas (APLNG) company also assists with funding. The QITRC facility consists of the following areas: Desalination plant - this has been there for some time and provides freshwater for the Quoin Island Retreat owned by Mr McCosker. It now also provides ample freshwater for the QITRC. Office and Treatment room this air-conditioned room is for administration, food preparation and any turtle treatments required. It contains a fridge for medications and food. A set of weighing scales are present as well as a good selection of medical supplies such as syringes, needles, disinfectants etc. Undercover area there are four various sized circular tanks for the initial turtle rehabilitation process. These are static tanks which are drained daily and then refilled with ambient sea water manually by the staff. Large in-ground swimming pool (approximately nine metres in length). This pool contains the sea turtles that are healthy and on the road to recovery. It provides good exercise pre-release. Life Support System (LSS) for the pool consists of a pump, pressure sand filter and cartridge filter. The sides and bottom of the pool were covered in algae but the water was clear and so this is purely a cosmetic issue. Fresh sea water was added daily for between 3 to 6 hours a day with old water draining out onto the beach and back into the sea. Large freshwater holding tank at the far end of the facility. Behind this are 3 x 22,000 litre tanks that hold filtered sea water. The sea water is filtered through three large blue coloured, 5 micron filters that are located in the desalination plant room Amphibious vehicle / boat for rescues Page 8

9 When a turtle enters QITRC it is given a sequential number. The turtle is examined, weighed and its carapace measured. All data is recorded. The turtle is given a name, which is then written on their back (using a white, water-based paint marker pen). A White Board located in the Undercover area is used as a central recording area so that all staff can see which turtles are currently in the facility. During the winter, heating of the water is required at times to maintain the water temperature at 25 to 26 o C. Increased water changes in the summer keep the temperature from getting too hot. Food consists mainly of squid, pilchards and some cos lettuce. Turtles are fed individually and the weight of food fed each day is recorded. Once a week all turtles are physically checked and weighed. Mr McCosker currently liaises with a veterinary surgery in Rockhampton for veterinary supplies and for any turtles that require medical or surgical intervention. Mr McCosker has also developed skills in treating the turtles with the administration of antibiotics and other medication as required as well as cleaning and dressing wounds. Records supplied show that since opening QITRC has provided care for a little over 100 sea turtles, of which the vast majority are Green sea turtles. There have been four Flatback turtles, six Hawksbill turtles and one Loggerhead turtle. The turtles ranged in size from less than one kilogram (baby Loggerhead) to just over 100 kilograms (Green Sea turtle). Of these sea turtles, 41 have been released back to the wild with some still present at QITRC as well as those that have been transferred to the second facility (see below). A summary of sea turtle species, their numbers and size as reported by QITRC is in the table below: Species Average (mm) SD Minimum (mm) Maximum (mm) % Flatback Green Hawksbill Loggerhead The size distribution of Green Sea turtles recorded by QITRC in the summer months of 2013 and 2014 is in the chart below. This data shows that the majority are sub-adult Green Sea turtles. Page 9

10 30 25 Size Distribution Green Sea Turtles Frequency CCL (mm) Mr McCosker provides a 24-hour telephone number for members of the public to contact if they find a stranded sea turtle that needs rescuing. This number is widely advertised on the QITRC web site and in the media. QITRC conducts necropsies on all of the deceased turtles with a gross examination and no further testing. At present this is being undertaken by volunteers, with the main person being a medical doctor with training from an Australian Zoo veterinarian. Mr McCosker is responsible for flipper tagging and releasing turtles after their time at QITRC. QITRC has a webpage at and also see Appendix Two for photographs of QITRC. 2.2 Gladstone Area Water Board The Gladstone Area Water Board (GAWB) was established in 1973 and its purpose is to ensure that the long and short-term water needs of current and future customers are met in ways that are environmentally, socially and commercially sustainable. GAWB owns and operates Awoonga Dam on the Boyne River along with a network of delivery pipelines, water treatment plants and other water distribution infrastructure in the Gladstone region. GAWB operates a marine fish hatchery to produce fingerlings to restock Lake Awoonga. The hatchery is one of the largest breeders of barramundi (Lates calcarifer) fingerlings in Queensland. It also breeds mangrove jack (Lutjanus argentimaculatus) and sea mullet (Mugil cephalus). Four full-time GAWB staff operate the hatchery as well as monitoring and Page 10

11 managing the Lake Awoonga recreational fishery. The hatchery is located on Auckland Inlet at the corner of Lord and Glenlyon Streets, Gladstone. Recently, the GAWB has established a sea turtle rehabilitation facility within the fish hatchery. This facility has a linkage with the QITRC with staff from GAWB having been trained by Mr McCosker and QITRC has also provided GAWB with animals for care. The GAWB turtle facility is financed by the Queensland Gas Company (QGC). However, this funding expires in December GAWB is licenced to rehabilitate up to ten marine turtles at any one time. As part of the permit, issued by the DEHP, the public are not allowed to view the turtles. The GAWB turtle facility consists of the following areas: Triage room with direct street access, which is excellent from a biosecurity viewpoint. This area contains four small circular yellow tubs (few hundred litres in volume), which are designed for short-term holding and assessment. These tubs are all static tanks with filling and emptying being controlled manually. There is ample freshwater and sea water available. There is a scissor-lift trolley and weighing scales. Shade-clothed area with eight rectangular blue tubs. These tubs are all static tanks with filling and emptying being controlled manually. These are larger tubs (approximately 2000 litres) for more long-term treatment and monitoring. One large circular blue tub (20,000 litres) which is for the long-term holding of turtles. On the day of our visit, all turtles at the facility were present in this tub. This tub has some LSS with pumps and a biotower. Every two days, a 100% water change is performed. Food consists mainly of squid and pilchards. As GAWB only has a few turtles they operate on a visual identification system with size and distinguishing features used to recognize the turtles. The turtles are weighed weekly and records kept. GAWB is placing flipper tags on the turtles and in conjunction with QITRC releasing the turtles after their time at GAWB. Due to local development, the GAWB hatchery is due to relocate within the next few years. This provides an excellent opportunity, as part of the BOS, to assist in developing an improved and custom-built facility (covered later in this report). See Appendix Three for photographs of the GAWB facility. Page 11

12 CONCLUSION Overall, these two facilities seem to be functioning reasonably well, particularly in light of their budgetary constraints. The Project team would like to raise the following concerns about the current facilities, none of which would be difficult to rectify if the recommendations of the next section are undertaken. The list of concerns applies to both facilities, unless indicated, and they are: Insufficient veterinary input Potential for unsupervised use of veterinary drugs Incomplete necropsies not performed by a pathologist or veterinarian, with no follow-up histopathology etc. (QITRC) Lack of veterinary equipment (X-ray machine, anaesthetic machine, ultrasound and so on) Insufficient Standard Operating Procedures Insufficient or no lifting equipment for heavy turtles on site Lack of experience (GAWB) Insufficient training of staff and/or volunteers on husbandry and care of turtles Some collaboration between centres but little consistency of treatment Relocation of GAWB causing lack of surety about location and facilities Diet fed to turtles high in fat (pilchards). While good for fast weight gain, a less fatty option would result in healthier animals being released Page 12

13 3. Future Direction The Gladstone region currently has two functional sea turtle rehabilitation facilities that if brought together under an overarching body could provide appropriate turtle rehabilitation. An overarching body will allow the standards of care at the two centres to be supported, improved and standardised. Co-operation and co-ordination is required to avoid duplication of effort and to ensure that there is consistency in all rehabilitation procedures. There are three possible options moving forward, with Option One the preferred option and Option Three the least preferred. Option One The Project teams recommendation is that the Capricornia Marine Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation Board (hereafter referred to as the Board) be established to oversee and coordinate the function of the two existing facilities. There are several different legal entities that could be used, but it would appear that legally this body should best be a company limited by guarantee. To confirm which structure should be used, a formal legal opinion must be sought. The proposed membership of the Board would consist of up to nine members: GPC (essential) GAWB representative (essential) QITRC and ideally Mr Bob McCosker (essential) APLNG (This is optional and at each of the LNG companies discretion, however it is essential that at least one company is permanently represented) QGC (This is optional and at each of the LNG companies discretion, however it is essential that at least one company is permanently represented) Gladstone LNG (GLNG) (This is optional and at each of the LNG companies discretion, however it is essential that at least one company is permanently represented) Veterinarian with expertise in this area (essential) Turtle biologist(essential) Gladstone region independent person (essential) The first six members of the Board are selected individually by the organizations that they represent. Board members would need to be appointed for a minimum of one year (and preferably two) to have stability and develop ongoing relationships. These six members would then be responsible for selecting and appointing the final three members by invitation. Page 13

14 Once again, these last three Board members should be appointed for a minimum of one year (and preferably two). A mechanism needs to be established to ensure that not all Board members finish their time together, which would create a lack of continuity. GPC has indicated their willingness to host the meetings. The recommendation would be to hold monthly meetings for the first six months and then bi-monthly meetings (six per year) for the next six months (total of nine meetings in the first twelve months) when there would be a large amount of work to be undertaken. The frequency should then be able to decrease to quarterly after the first year. In between meetings, correspondence would be via . The nine members would elect a Chairman and Secretary etc. All expenses for the meetings would be financed by the Board funds. As most members will be local, these costs should be minimal. There will be some expenses incurred in the establishment of this Board (company) with legal fees etc. and these are to come from the BOS money that GPC has available. Once established, bank accounts will be set up so that the BOS money can be placed in the Board account. The Board would then be responsible for administering the funds that are available from GPC via the BOS. The Board should aim for the company to gain charity status and not-for-profit status, which would then allow it to attract other donations and for sustainability of the Board. It is hoped then that the three LNG companies will continue their financial support via the Board. It would also be advisable to get the DEHP (https://www.ehp.qld.gov.au/) involved so that they understand and agree with the Project. A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) would need to be developed and agreed to and signed by both GAWB and QITRC. They would need to agree to follow any decisions made by the Board and in return they will receive support and funding from the Board to continue their work. It would be worthwhile having a discussion with both these groups before significant legal work is undertaken, to avoid costs if either party are not interested. The three LNG companies should also be consulted. The Board would be responsible for: identifying legal requirements clearly defining the roles of each facility (as suggested later in this report) establishing a series of guidelines and standard operating procedures ensuring that these standards are followed Initially the Board would predominantly be concerned with sea turtles. However, long-term strategies and planning should also be undertaken for sea birds, marine mammals and other marine reptiles (such as sea snakes). Preparation for oil spills should be on the agenda. Page 14

15 Gladstone, due to its central Queensland location, could become a centre for marine animal rehabilitation in the future. The Board should ensure that there is associated research with both of these sea turtle facilities in collaboration with Universities and Government. The Central Queensland University has two of its five campuses located in Gladstone and Rockhampton and relationships should be promoted to foster a research-based environment. Currently, in Queensland marine wildlife animal stranding should be reported by telephone to 1300ANIMAL. These calls are handled by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) Queensland branch, who have an agreement to take these calls for the DEHP. The agreement with DEHP has RSPCA Qld passing the calls onto DEHP Rangers who are responsible for the collection of the animals. In Gladstone, the QITRC has a turtle hotline that is also widely advertised. It is proposed that this process be streamlined and, with DEHP approval, any calls to 1300ANIMALS about animals in the Gladstone region be passed onto GAWB rather than DEHP. Detailed records will be kept of the telephone calls and the outcomes for DEHP. This is covered in the Operational Flowchart (see section 7). For day-to-day management, there may be the need for a part-time employee. This will be a Board decision. Meetings are to be hosted and facilitated by GPC. Suggested Steps: i) GPC present this report and have discussions with QITRC and GAWB to get agreement on the establishment of a charitable company (Board) ii) Select a Working Group similar membership to the Board iii) Working Group to establish the company from a legal viewpoint iv) Establish the Board for the company v) Develop MOUs with QITRC and GAWB and get signed off vi) Open Bank accounts vii) Transfer BOS funds to Board account viii) Develop budgets Option Two If GPC cannot commit, for whatever reason, out of their own resources to the establishment of a Board and providing a Board member, then we suggest that GPC, using some of the BOS funds, pay a person to undertake this role. Page 15

16 This person would be a Board member and be responsible for all administration and clerical duties of the Board. It is estimated that this would require 0.5 to 1 day a week. This person would then report to GPC on the finances and activities of the Board. All other recommendations about the Board made in Option One, apply to Option Two Option Three If the formation of the Board as outlined above in Options One and Two is not practical or possible, then the Project team s last recommendation is that GPC would directly oversee the funding, via the BOS, of the processes and budgets as detailed in the remainder of this report. Whichever option is selected, the Project team would advise that MOUs between GPC and the two rehabilitation facilities should still be developed and signed off. Page 16

17 4. Managing both sites Whether a Board is formed or GPC takes on this role, the Project team makes several recommendations. With the two facilities that currently exist, we would recommend the following to prevent duplication: 1. GAWB hatchery is the best option for an initial triage centre. It is easily accessible by road. Many turtles are transported to Gladstone by vehicle from the surrounding areas. Currently, via the Auckland Inlet there is water access if needed. In the new GAWB hatchery location (see later) this may or may not occur but is not critical. Transport to a veterinarian for treatment or regular access by the consultant veterinarian will always be easier than on Quoin Island. There may be the odd occasion when a critically ill sea turtle is transferred directly to a veterinarian for emergency treatment. In this situation, after the veterinary treatment, the turtle should then be transferred to GAWB. It is recommended that GAWB should always have a few turtles on site to maintain staff interest etc. 2. QITRC is the best option for the long-term rehabilitation of turtles after their initial emergency first-aid and stabilization period at GAWB. The turtles would then be transferred to QITRC, who will care for the turtles and be responsible for their release upon recovery. If the QITRC facility is full (i.e. at its capacity of 10 turtles) then turtles will remain at the GAWB hatchery site until turtles have been released back into the wild from QITRC. Also, it needs to be noted that with the two current facilities QITRC is more capable of handling the larger (> 80 kilograms bodyweight) than GAWB. A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) needs to be developed and agreed to and signed by both GAWB and QITRC. They would need to agree to follow any decisions made by the Board or GPC and, in return, they will receive support and funding from the Board or GPC to continue their work. To ensure that the Gladstone region s sea turtle rehabilitation program is of the highest level, it is essential that Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) be developed and documented, and that both facilities adhere to them. This needs to be a major role of the Board or GPC. The Board or GPC may undertake this process themselves, using any existing SOPs from the two existing facilities as a starting point. It may also be necessary to engage a professional consultant to review these SOPs Page 17

18 SOPs are required in the following areas: Required permits Physical facility standard Triage procedure Record Keeping - including permanent identification (use of microchips in the left shoulder region), weighing (weekly) and measuring (monthly). Col Limpus is a good resource for this. Excel spreadsheet with all turtle details. Individual medical history records. Develop a template that is used by both sites. Training of all staff and volunteers. Community involvement is important. This should include carers in the field (i.e. first responders). Conduct a two-day workshop involving external experts (veterinarian, turtle biologist or carer) and Mr Bob McCosker. The first day would involve staff and volunteers from the existing two facilities, as well as local carers and focus on the initial first aid on the beach and transporting the turtles to GAWB for triage. The second day would be specifically for the staff of the two facilities and focus on turtle husbandry and medical care. A workshop should be conducted in the first year and then as a minimum every two years after that. Veterinary Care (treatment protocols, including antibiotics, parasite treatments, pain relief for traumatic injuries, ongoing monitoring, euthanasia). Strict adherence to the use and administration of Prescription Animal Remedies (old S4) is important (see below). Regular veterinary visits to both facilities, with a minimum of two visits per month to GAWB and monthly to QITRC, with a weekly update of new arrivals, weights etc. All new turtles should be examined by a veterinarian within two to three days of arrival. Blood testing to become the standard rather than the exception. Workplace Health and Safety (old OHS) including lifting of large turtles and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) such as gloves and safety goggles. Must talk about Salmonella and Mycobacteria Nutrition type and quantity (species specific), correct thawing procedure, nutritional supplements Biosecurity prevention of disease spread Water Quality water changes, LSS, testing regime, daily checklist for each facility Criteria for Release body weight monitoring and possible use of blood sampling prior to release (see Flint et al, 2010). Turtles due for release must have a vet check within 7 days of the release date. Release Procedure use of ID and monitoring options (flipper tags, microchips, Sat Tags, internal transponders). Ensure that all tagging is under the approval of an Animal Ethics Committee. Turtles to be released into a safe environment, as close to where they were found as possible Deceased animals what to do with body, necropsy arrangements, pathology testing Page 18

19 In Queensland, as in all States, there are strict guidelines regarding the control of Prescription Animal Remedies (the old S4s). These rules govern the buying, dispensing, storing and administration of such drugs. There are two circumstances under which a non-veterinarian can administer a Prescription Animal Remedy drug to an animal: 1) the drug has been dispensed by a veterinarian following an examination of a specific animal. The dispensed drug must be labelled in a particular way and administered by the non-veterinarian according to the instructions given by the veterinarian 2) a person has received written approval under the Health (Drugs and Poisons) Regulations 1996 and even then a veterinarian must be contacted to give approval for the use of the drugs for each patient. Approval conditions include detailed record keeping of the use of the drug and the storage of the drug in a locked cupboard/drawer. It is essential that both turtle rehabilitation sites adhere to these regulations. These regulations are in a document entitled Approvals for Animal Management and/or Welfare Purposes in Queensland. This is available at : It is recommended that a local veterinarian be identified who will be responsible for supervising the veterinary care of the two facilities as well as making the required on-site visits. This veterinarian ideally should have access to radiology, endoscopy and ultrasound equipment when it is required. It is also recommended that the Board or GPC engage an external consultant to undertake an independent audit annually of both facilities to ensure that they are following the correct practices as outlined in the SOPs that have been developed. There needs to be an allowance for one full day at each site checking the facility itself as well as all records etc. followed by a report. The following is a list of essential equipment that must be present at both of these facilities: Refrigerator for food Freezer for food storage Scales for weighing Lifting gear scissor lift trolley etc. (must be capable of lifting the occasional 200 kilogram turtle) Turtle stretchers (at least two sizes) Microchip Reader, implanter and microchips Lockable cupboard as well as a refrigerator for medications Syringes and Needles appropriate for treatment Swabs and disinfectants for wound cleaning Water Quality testing equipment (temperature, salinity, ph and ammonia) Office with computer and internet access Microscope (with digital attachment for internet medicine) Page 19

20 Ultra-violet lamps if there is no direct access to the sun LSS to ensure good water quality is maintained Heating of the water to maintain optimum temperatures in the winter At GAWB (triage and emergency treatment) it is advisable that there be the following: Anaesthetic Machine Radiology capability (on site or access via local veterinarian) Endoscope / Ultrasound capability (on site or access via local veterinarian) Staffing of the facilities will be required. It is anticipated that there will need to be one full time equivalent (FTE) at each site on a daily basis. Properly trained local volunteers (some of which already exist) could reduce this level of staffing. Tertiary students who are studying Marine Biology or other related courses, could be utilized as part of their work experience programs, externships etc. Insurance coverage for all staff and volunteers will be essential. Page 20

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