Loggerhead turtles blown off course rest easy in south-west WA sanctuary

Loggerhead turtles blown off course rest easy in south-west WA sanctuary

Loggerhead turtles blown off course rest easy in south-west WA sanctuary

Updated 2 August 2017, 12:50 AEST

Blown off course by strong winds and large waves, a group of loggerhead turtles are being nursed back to health in Western Australia's south-west.

A fresh batch of juvenile loggerhead turtles has been offered temporary lodgings in a Western Australian wildlife sanctuary after being blown off course by strong winds and large swells.

It is thought the turtles were travelling along WA's Leeuwin current, which runs north to south, and were pushed towards the coast long before their final destination.

Bunbury Dolphin Discovery Centre marine biologist Phil Coulthard said that while the find is not a first for the region, it serves a timely reminder of the life cycle of the ocean's living creatures and the importance of alerting authorities to such discoveries.

"The lucky ones are the ones that wash up on the beach and are found by beach walkers," Mr Coulthard said.

"Generally if they're not found they'll die, or get picked up by sharp-eyed predators."

Mr Coulthard said numbers of loggerhead turtles off WA's coast was "okay" compared to the east, however they are considered an endangered species.

"Exactly how many wash up on the beaches every year depends on a number of factors including how many are born in the north in the late summer or autumn," Mr Coulthard said.

"Their mums lay the eggs, they hatch then scurry down to the ocean as fast as they can and ride the currents from there. There could be tens, hundreds or thousands riding those currents."

Loggerhead turtles are thought to have a lifespan of between 47 to 67 years and can weigh anything up to 450 kilograms.

Mr Coulthard said although those found were often missing flippers or entangled in discarded fishing gear, they are nonetheless a "robust little critter" known to be "creatures of habit".

He said the turtles in the sanctuary will be fed, weighed and monitored before being released when they reached a stable condition and deemed fit enough to re-join the currents.

"It's still early in their cycle as far as their migration pattern goes," Mr Coulthard said.

"We've had four or five wash up so far, we could end up to 400 over the next few months.

"So it's really important beachgoers keep an eye out to make sure what they're looking at isn't a little baby turtle."