Rare Hawksbill sea turtle rescued at Elliott Heads

Hawksbill sea turtle
What's believed to be a Hawksbill sea turtle, rescued at Elliott Heads.

A Bundaberg spear fisherman has rescued a suspected endangered Hawksbill sea turtle today (Sunday) which was entangled in fishing line at Elliott Heads.

The turtle was being taken to the Australia Zoo for rehabilitation, recovery and release.

Corey Bennett was fishing near Elliott Heads when he said he saw what's believed to be a Hawksbill sea turtle “stuck” on the reef floor, entangled in old fishing line.

Hawksbill sea turtles are critically endangered, according to worldwildlife.org.

Corey said the turtle seemed distressed and he went closer to look.

Hawksbill sea turtle
Corey Bennett rescued what's believed to be a Hawksbill sea turtle at Elliott Heads.

“It must have swallowed some bait and lodged the hook deep in its throat, then fishing line connected to the hook became tangled around its neck and caught on the reef floor,” he said.

“I grabbed out my dive knife and cut it free from the reef.

“It had no energy so I swam it to the surface where it gasped for air.

“At this point I noticed it had a a hook lodged in the back of its throat and made the decision to carry it ashore and get in contact with rangers.”

The local spear fisherman said the turtle seemed to be a female teen.

Corey said he had seen many things in the deep blue before but had never rescued a turtle.

“This is the first experience I’ve had seeing a turtle caught up like that,” he said. 

“However, I am cleaning up lots of fishing line, hooks and sinkers along the coast.”

Corey said he managed to get in contact with Mon Repos rangers who took the turtle into care before its transfer to Australia Zoo. 

“They told me they would take her to the vet, rehabilitate her and then hopefully be able to release her back into the wild,” he said.