2022 - A year of rescue, rehabilitation and releases

Zoos and aquariums contribute outstanding conservation efforts each year through their rescue and release programs. Dedicated teams conducting these programs contribute tirelessly to support the rescue, rehabilitation and release of some of our region's most threatened species. Not only do these programs give these individuals a new chance at life, but they also contribute to the future conservation of these species by boosting wild population numbers.


Dolphin Marine Rescue team 


Dolphin Marine Rescue have a successful and Impactful Year in rescue and rehabilitation:

Dolphin Marine Conservation Park on the Coffs Coast funds the not for profit rescue and rehabilitation branch Dolphin Marine Rescue. In 2022 Dolphin Marine Rescue assisted at least 16 different species in their facility including New Zealand Fur Seals (Arctocephalus foresti), Green Sea Turtles (Chelonia mydas), Hawksbill Sea Turtles (Eremochelys imbricate), a Flatback Sea Turtle (Natator depressus), Muttonbirds, Giant Petrels, Leopard Seals (Hydrurga leptonyx) and even an Indo-Pacific Bottlenose Dolphin (Tursiops aduncus). 


Sea World conducted over 200 rescues of marine animals in 2022:

 The Sea World team were proud to again play a leading role in marine conservation efforts in Southeast Queensland with the team conducting over 200 rescues of marine animals this year including whales, turtles, dolphins, dugongs, seasnakes, seabirds and seals. Sadly, the Sea World team had an increase in turtle admissions in 2022 with an unknown soft shell syndrome affecting the population in the Fraser Coast region. The Sea World team worked closely with other zoological facilities to discover more about the syndrome, treatment options and were successful in rehabilitating and releasing several individuals. 


The Rescue team was also extremely busy during the whale migration season and successfully released four humpback whales who become entangled in shark control programs or fishing equipment. The team continue to work with the Queensland Government on alternate options for shark control programs while also educating in park guests through the Shark Smart program on shark and water safety. 


SEA LIFE Sydney successfully rescue, rehabilitate and release turtles in NSW:


Lizzie on the day she was rescued


Turtle release


After 4 months of rehabilitation, SEA LIFE Sydney successfully released Lizzie the Green Sea Turtle back into the wild in Sydney’s south. After nearly doubling her weight during rehabilitation, Lizzie, as she was affectionately named by her rescuers, received the final “healthy and fit for release” approvals from her veterinarian. With permissions from NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service, the aquarium’s rescue team has returned her to Sutherland Point, Kurnell, the location from which she was rescued.


Lizzie arrived as a patient at SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium’s Animal Rescue Centre in September 2021 after volunteer divers from Australian Sea Bird Rescue and Abyss Scuba Diving responded to multiple sightings of an unwell green sea turtle. They found her lethargic, dehydrated, covered in barnacles and with a slightly sunken plastron (bottom side of the shell).

SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium is also proud to announce the release of now healthy, juvenile turtles, Avalon the Hawksbill Sea Turtle and Warnie and Cuttler, two Loggerhead Turtles, back into the ocean, at Zenith Beach, Port Stephens, NSW. 


Avalon, the Hawksbill Sea Turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata), a species listed as critically endangered, was found washed up on Avalon Beach in Sydney’s Northern Beaches on 18th November 2020, by a member of the public who called the SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium rescue hotline. The juvenile was in very poor condition, weighing only 3.8kgs, extremely malnourished and underweight, dehydrated and lethargic, with a high volume of biofouling; barnacles, algae growth, etc. indicating she had likely been adrift for a long time. Experts at SEA LIFE Sydney carefully collected her but were not sure she would pull through and immediately began an intensive care program. Initial treatment on arrival was to provide a safe space to rest and rehydrate. Following that, the team of Aquarists, led by Curatorial Supervisor Ben Wynand, and the in-house veterinary team, focussed on her feeding, her swimming ability and patiently improving her overall body condition.


The rehabilitation was a great success, Avalon now weights 13.6kgs, is strong, healthy and was deemed fit for release. She was taken to Zenith Beach, Port Stephens, NSW, where she showed the team how far she had come, powerfully swimming straight off as soon as she was carefully walked into and placed in the water.