Flooding, extreme weather sees wildlife washing up on NSW beaches

DRENCHED: A soggy brushtail possum that is now in care in the northern beaches following the wild weather. Picture: Heidi Hulspas
DRENCHED: A soggy brushtail possum that is now in care in the northern beaches following the wild weather. Picture: Heidi Hulspas

WITH the intense rainfall came dozens of wildlife rescues across NSW beaches with many native animals unable to cope with the very wet conditions.

Freshwater turtles were found washed up on beaches, drenched possums were coming indoors to escape the downpours and birds were soaked through.

Sydney Wildlife Rescue carer Lynleigh Greig said a juvenile freshwater turtle found at Collaroy Beach is now among many turtles being cared for.

"Generally when it rains their water source flows and they get wooshed down stormwater drains and because a lot of them drain onto beaches the salinity is killing them," she said.

Freshwater turtles can be distinguished by their webbed claws and ability to retract their heads and legs, saltwater turtles have flippers.

The juvenile freshwater turtle that was washed onto Collaroy Beach. Picture: Sydney Wildlife Rescue

The juvenile freshwater turtle that was washed onto Collaroy Beach. Picture: Sydney Wildlife Rescue

A very soggy brushtail possum (pictured above) that wandered into the National Parks and Wildlife office in Bobbin Head is now being cared for in the northern beaches before it will be released.

"We're mainly being called to possums, they're just wandering indoors," Ms Greig said.

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Rescuers were also called to a powerful owl (pictured) in Bayview that was drenched and suffering from a few medical issues during the storm.

A powerful own that was rescued in Bayview during the wild weather. Picture: Sydney Wildlife Rescue

A powerful own that was rescued in Bayview during the wild weather. Picture: Sydney Wildlife Rescue

"Even birds can get water logged, the feathers can only withstand so much rain," Ms Greig said.

Ms Greig urged people to be tolerant of wildlife sheltering near their home and asked that pets are kept away from native animals during this time.

Across NSW's South Coast the story is similar with wildlife carers warning locals if they spot a baby turtle not to place it back into the sea.

The turtles are likely to be exhausted and potentially injured from putting up a fight against the extreme weather, which has caused loggerhead turtle hatchlings to be displaced from their nesting areas in Queensland.

TURTLES IN CARE: Rescuer Lauren Manning-Darby with some of the hatchlings. Image: supplied.

TURTLES IN CARE: Rescuer Lauren Manning-Darby with some of the hatchlings. Image: supplied.

Nesting for the loggerhead turtles usually finishes late February. The extreme weather coincided with the period that the hatchlings start to emerge into the ocean, causing big swells to catch them along the way and push them onto the shore.

Rescuer at the Australian Seabird Rescue South Coast Lauren Manning-Darby said if you come across a tiny turtle, it's best to place it in a box.

"Stay with the hatchling if possible, place it in an open box or a container with a towel or something soft underneath it," she said.

"Be sure to keep pets and kids away and keep the noise minimal. Contact us and we can get a rescuer out as soon as possible."

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So far, seven turtles have been found at South Coast beaches including Currarong Beach, Vincentia, Batemans Bay and Merimbula. Six have been found along the Central Coast.

The turtles are still in care at the Australian Seabird Rescue.

At their youngest, Loggerhead Turtles are vulnerable. Lauren stressed the importance of keeping the endangered species safe.

"Loggerheads are an endangered and vital species in maintaining the health of the sea grass beds and the reefs in marine ecosystems. This is why we try to increase the chance of survival of every individual turtle coming into care," she said.

"They spend several years drifting on the currents but when they get caught up in storms and washed up into beaches, they get smashed into rocks or accidentally ingest plastic because they're in incorrect feeding grounds.

"They're inexperienced and this can make them weak in dealing with getting back into the water."

  • If you see a native animal in distress call Sydney Wildlife Rescue on 9413 4300, Australian Seabird Rescue on 0438 862 676, or WIRES on 1300 094 737.
  • If you come across a baby turtle, contact the Australian Seabird Rescue South Coast branch on 0431 282 238 or via their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/AustralianSeabirdRescueSouthCoast
This story Wildlife washing up on beaches kilometres from home first appeared on Northern Beaches Review.