Suitability for release

Preparations for release

Objective is to ensure the marine reptile is physically fit and has the appropriate survival skills prior to its release. Preparations for release will start at the time of rescue and continue throughout the rehabilitation process. Many species will gradually lose their survival skills in captivity, so it is vital their time in care is kept to a minimum.

  • A marine reptile must not be released until it is physically ready. This status has been achieved when:
    − it has recovered from any injury or disease (e.g. swims, dives and submerges for an extended time)
    − its weight and condition are within the appropriate range for that species, stage of development and sex
    − it has appropriate fitness levels as determined by both passive observation and active assessment (e.g. the marine reptile shows normal swimming behaviour when a pump is turned on to simulate wave action, and can right itself when inverted in the water column)
    − its scales, carapace or skin is adequate for survival in its natural habitat
    − it has acclimatised to prevailing climatic conditions
    − it exhibits salt tolerance.
  •  A marine reptile must not be released until it is behaviourally ready. This status has been achieved when it is not attracted to humans (i.e. not humanised) or to sights, sounds or smells that are specific to captivity (i.e. not imprinted).
  • It can navigate effectively through its natural environment (e.g. avoid obstacles).
  •  A sea turtle must not be released until it can recognise, forage and consume appropriate, naturally available food, except for adult green turtles that are fed food (e.g. kale, endives or lettuce) that mimic seagrass
  •  A marine reptile must not be released until it has been acclimatised to the prevailing sea temperature. Sea temperature must not be measured by the outside temperature as it can be affected by both current and wind conditions.
  • A marine reptile’s readiness for release must be confirmed by either a veterinarian or experienced marine reptile rehabilitator.
  • A marine reptile should not be released until its health and fitness is assessed with a blood test for packed cell volume (PCV) and total protein.

Turtle Release


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