Biology – “Reservoir disease” in Australian sea turtles

Sea turtles on Australia’s Sunshine Coast are causing great concern: more and more animals are being attacked by a mysterious disease. The shell animal was attacked for still unknown reasons and eaten, so to speak. Broadcaster 9News reported on Wednesday, citing experts. For now, it is still completely unclear whether the disease is caused by viruses, bacteria, parasites or pollutants.

It was first reported that the disease was detected in sea turtles in the waters of Hervey Bay, 300 kilometers north of Brisbane, last year. Researchers and animal rights activists are currently trying to figure out what the trigger is. In affected animals, parts of the carapace become soft and spongy, sometimes even exposing the bones.

disease documented for the first time

Kathy Townsend from the University of the Sunshine Coast said it was the first time the mysterious disease had been documented in sea turtles. “The data our rescuers collect while responding to stranding calls and performing health checks on turtles is essential to determining what is happening and how turtles contract this disease,” she said.

Sea turtles in the region are also suffering from food shortages following the recent devastating floods on the east coast. Sediment washed out of rivers and streams during extreme rainfall events would choke seagrass beds, significantly affecting the quality and quantity of the turtles’ main food source, Townsend said. “Sea turtles usually spend the summer fattening up before the annual winter kelp die-off, but flooding has disrupted this, resulting in poor turtle health and more strandings.”

Sea turtles can weigh hundreds of pounds and can live up to 100 years, according to the Turtle Foundation. There are six species living in Queensland waters. All are considered endangered. (apa/af)

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