Green Turtles on Fitzroy Island

June 4, 2018

Cuddly koalas and kangaroos are probably the first things that spring to mind when somebody mentions wildlife in Australia, but Oz boasts one of the most diverse ranges of species on the planet. The Great Barrier Reef is one of the most important and influential natural wonders on Earth, and no trip Down Under is complete without catching a glimpse of its vibrant network of weird and wonderful creatures going about their business surrounded by neon reefs and tropical islands. Anyone could explore this magnificent underwater playground for months, but one of the jewels in the crown of the Queensland coast is Fitzroy Island.

Exploring Fitzroy Island, Home of the Green Turtle

Nestled in the calm, vivid waters of the Great Barrier Reef, Fitzroy Island is just a short boat ride from the thriving coastal town of Cairns. The island is surrounded by clear, warm waters which provide the perfect conditions for a variety of sea life, including turtles. Australia is home to six of the seven different species of turtle, and Fitzroy Island provides some incredible opportunities to see one of the most well-known: the green turtle. If you’re confident in the water, dive right in and swim with the turtles. And if you don’t fancy a dip, take a guided tour to watch these creatures gliding around in the waves from the comfort of a glass-bottom boat. The tranquil waters are a haven for these animals, and this is one of few places to actually jump in and experience close encounters with this mesmerising species. But turtles aren’t the only interesting natives to look out for here: all kinds of brightly coloured fish inhabit the waters and in the sky are heaps of native bird species like cockatoos and kingfishers.

If you’re keen on snorkelling or scuba diving, Fitzroy Island provides an amazing base to take advantage of opportunities to explore the reef.

Turtle Nesting and Rehabilitation

The population of green turtles is very important to local people, and conservation work is underway to protect the animals, to encourage breeding and nesting, and to provide treatment and shelter for injured turtles. If you’re planning a trip to Fitzroy Island, the Cairns Turtle Rehabilitation Centre is well worth a visit. Run by volunteers, it is a place to learn all about the history of the island’s turtle population, their habits and life cycles, and how the centre is making a positive difference to the species.

Tours of the facility are available, offering visitors the chance to meet turtles on the road to recovery and learn more about the work undertaken by the volunteers who give their all to ensure their poorly patients make a full recovery.  The conservation work is extraordinary. Earlier this year Yasi, a green sea turtle, returned to the island for the first time since 2011, when a cyclone destroyed many of her nests. In May, more than 700 baby turtles hatched and subsequently made their maiden voyage into the water. Marine biologists had been waiting for seven years to see her on the island again, and the team at the rehabilitation centre was delighted with Yasi’s return to the beaches and to witness the hatchlings gingerly making their way to the shoreline.

The Best Ways to see Turtles on Fitzroy Island

The best way to see the green turtles on the island is to get into the water and swim around, armed with a snorkel and a mask and the sizeable turtle population means it shouldn’t take too long to come across them in their natural habitat. Book boat trips, which include free time to snorkel and dive, or plan a looser itinerary and explore at your own leisure. Away from the water, you’ll find a host of turtles on view at the rehabilitation centre, and if you’re not keen on swimming or snorkelling, stay dry on your adventure on one of the glass bottom boat tours, which are another excellent option.

Some of Queensland and the Great Barrier Reef’s prized assets reside on Fitzroy Island, so don’t miss the opportunity to see green turtles and tonnes of other amazing sea creatures in their natural habitat.

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