Caring for Sea Turtles in The Whitsundays


Spotting sea turtles is a highlight when exploring the Whitsundays, but what do you do when a turtle needs help?

There are six varieties of sea turtles in the Whitsundays, and sighting them is common when exploring the islands. Getting up close to these gentle sea creatures is always exciting, even for locals who have been sharing the waters with them for years.

Unfortunately, our local turtles can sometimes get into trouble from human interference. Injuries from pollution, plastic, boat propellers, and fishing waste can distress turtles. Still, they can be rehabilitated and saved if they are found early.

Our turtles rely on people who use their waters to keep an eye out for them and call in rescue teams when necessary. Before you head out on a bareboat charter, learn about how you can help a turtle in distress.

Whitsunday Turtle - Ocean Clean Prints Photography
Image: @Oceancleanprints

Whitsundays Sea Turtle Rescue

The Whitsunday Turtle Rescue Centre is a local facility run by volunteers who care for sick and injured turtles.

The centre has five quarantine tanks and, to date, has provided care for over 225 turtles, including 69 hatchlings from one nest.

If you see a turtle in distress, we recommend calling the centre for advice. They will talk you through what you need to do to keep the turtle safe before they come out to assess.

Whitsunday Sea Turtles

How the public can help with turtle rescues

Whitsunday Turtle Rescue Centre founder Libby Edge says it’s important for turtle survival that members of the public can identify sick or injured animals.

“Members of the public who come across a sick or injured turtle are allowed to rescue the turtle if it’s safe to do so. The rescuers must make arrangements for the turtle to be taken to the closest Turtle Rehabilitation Centre; in the Whitsundays that is us,” she says.

Signs of a distressed turtle include:

  • An inability to dive and a large amount of carapace exposed.
  • Turtles that have been floating for a long time may be covered in barnacles or algae.
  • Look for signs of entanglement
  • Look for mucus around the eyes

If you ever see a turtle in distress, please contact our head office on the radio
or phone 1300 ANIMAL (1300 264 625)

Hill Inlet Tongue Bay

Eco-certified Tourism

With such amazing marine life on our doorstep, Whitsunday Rent-A-Yacht is proud to be an Eco-Certified tourism operator. We are also very grateful for the work of the turtle rescue centre by donating old blankets from charter yachts.

As a small business, Whitsunday Rent a Yacht feels a sense of responsibility to care for our beautiful part of the world. We go to work every day grateful to spend a 9-5 life in the pristine environment of Shute Harbour. What gives us even more joy is sharing this stunning part of the world with visitors.

Onboard your Whitsunday Rent-A-Yacht charter vessel, you will find several ecotourism resources, including whale and marine species, mooring and anchoring, and national parks fact sheets.

How To Keep Local Turtles Safe

There are many ways we can help our turtles and other Whitsunday marine life thrive and these include:

  • Ensuring rubbish is disposed of properly so it does not enter the marine environment.
  • Reducing boat speed when travelling over seagrass waters where turtles are more prevalent.
  • Collecting rubbish that might find its way into Whitsunday waterways
  • Avoid damaging seagrass beds and reefs with anchors
  • Use environmentally friendly fishing tackle such as biodegradable line and non-stainless hooks
  • Donate to the Whitsunday Turtle Rescue Centre to help them provide continuous support for injured titles in the Whitsundays and Mackay region
  • If you ever see a turtle in distress, please contact our head office on the radio or phone 1300 ANIMAL (1300 264 625)


Where to see turtles in the Whitsunday Islands

There are six varieties of sea turtles in the Whitsundays and sighting them is common when exploring the Whitsunday islands and coast.  Around the Whitsunday islands, it’s possible you will see a turtle when snorkelling or diving anywhere. However, there are a couple of locations which are considered hotspots.

  • Tongue Bay, the access point to the Hill Inlet Lookout, is a great place to see turtles surface close to your boat and be the spot to head to the Hill Inlet lookout track from.
  • Cid Harbour is another great turtle feeding ground. You may spot them from your hired boat. Try the shallow waters of Dugong Inlet from your tender
  • Stonehaven Bay on Hook Island has a couple of particularly friendly turtles who are known to frequent the mooring buoys

TOP TIP: You will often hear a turtle before you see it, they exhale loudly when surfacing from the depths.

We hope that you can experience snorkelling alongside a sea turtle when you visit the Whitsundays or the Great Barrier Reef. An encounter with these mesmerising creatures is something you will never forget.


Join us to spot turtles in the Whitsundays and enjoy the freedom to explore
Contact us 1800 075 000 or

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Whitsunday Rent a Yacht acknowledges Traditional Owners of Country throughout Australia and in particular the Traditional Owners of the Whitsunday's Region, the Gia, Juru and Ngaro People; We recognise their continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

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