09 Jun Flooded: Australian Seabird and Turtle Rescue Inc.
Like many in the NSW Northern Rivers region, the Australian Seabird and Turtle Rescue at Ballina is having to consider tough choices. After being flooded twice during March, questions over whether remaining at the North Creek location is sustainable in the long-term, or how to reshape the centre to be resilient to future flooding, are on the minds of staff and volunteers.
The first flood required a complete evacuation of the centre. Staff and volunteers worked hard securing what they could, and relocating all wildlife patients out of danger. Eleven sea turtles were transported to the Gold Coast, 2 sea turtles requiring isolation were taken to Coffs Harbour, while three seabirds and a penguin were relocated to private residences on higher ground.
Damages to the centre included inundation of pumps, filtration systems, the aviary, storage shed, freezer and much more. The massive clean-up task saw many volunteers pitching in to scrub, disinfect and bring the centre back to partial operation.
Photo: Anna Dicker, President, Australian Seabird and Turtle Rescue Inc., showing the flood level within the storage shed.
The serious issue of water salinity remains. Before the floods, salt water was pumped from nearby waterways into the holding tanks. Recent rains and continued run-off have kept the salinity concentration well below optimal levels. This means that the Australian Seabird and Turtle Rescue has to purchase salt to mix with fresh water for use in sea turtle rehabilitation tanks. Without filtration systems, this water needs to be emptied and the tanks cleaned every day.
Getting back to being fully functional is a huge task. It will take time, but the Australian Seabird and Turtle Rescue WILL be back.
The Foundation for National Parks & Wildlife – Wildlife Heroes are proud to support Australian Seabird and Turtle Rescue with an Emergency Flood Grant in 2022.