HOME FREE: Australian Seabird Rescue's Paige Nealon, Olivia Pitt and Kathrina Southwell released three green sea turtles at Lighthouse Beach yesterday.
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HOME FREE: Australian Seabird Rescue's Paige Nealon, Olivia Pitt and Kathrina Southwell released three green sea turtles at Lighthouse Beach yesterday. . Francis Witsenhuysen

Hundreds watch turtles return to the sea

HUNDREDS gathered on Ballina's Lighthouse Beach to see three rehabilitated Green Sea Turtles return to their deep-sea home.

The heart-warming moment marked the 28th turtle release by Australian Seabird Rescue this year.

Numbat the turtle was rescued on October 8 at Mobbs Bay, South Ballina. He was stranded on the shoreline and was covered in mud, small barnacles and algae. After treatment and lots of prawns and squid, he put on 2kg.

Penguin the turtle was being smashed against the rocks at Angourie when rescued on October 16. He had 95 per cent algae cover and a few cuts on his left flipper and scratches on his carapace (shell) from the rocks. He has now put on over a kilogram and loves to steal food from the other turtles in the pre-release tank.

Wombat was stranded on the beach at Woody Head and was rescued by National Parks and Wildlife rangers on November 8. He was suffering from float and has made a full recovery after antibiotics, weighing 8.1kg.

Australian Seabird Rescue general manager Kathrina Southwell said the turtles had all been found with some micro-plastic in their faeces, but all had made quick recoveries.

"We are finding 100 per cent of our sea turtles have micro-plasic in their system, which is concerning,” she said.

Ms Southwell said rescues, rehabilitation and release of the marine mammals was important because all sea turtles were either endangered or vulnerable species.

"We need to try to save every one we can because only one in 10,000 survive to adulthood,” she said.

"We have 10 turtles currently in care and there is another turtle release at Clarkes Beach in Byron Bay on Monday at 10am ... she is a loggerhead named Lorde.”

If anyone finds a turtle on the beach call Australian Seabird Rescue on 0428 862 852.