In the afternoon of 15 June, a Leatherback Turtle was first seen on the beach at Aireys Inlet.

Local residents contacted the Aquarium, and they sent staff to check on it. When they arrived, the turtle was still alive, but appeared very weak. It was moved to the high tide mark to allow it to stabilize. The next morning it was checked by Aquarium staff but the animal had died. The Melbourne Museum was contacted, and with the assistance of Parks Vic staff, a digger was used to collect the turtle and load it onto a trailer for transportation.

Leatherback Turtle

Melbourne Aquarium Vet, Dr Rob Jones, carried out a post mortem. He found that apart from a small ulcer in the intestine, probably due to a parasite, and dehydration, there was no clear cause of death.

The female turtle measured 2 metres in length.

The skeleton of the turtle will become part of Museum Victoria research collection as complete skeletons are rare. This is only the second Leatherback Turtle to be found along the Victorian coast since 1999. The Museum will retain soft tissues for DNA collection, and barnacles and mussels from its shell for the Marine Invertebrates collection.

Leatherback Turtles are the largest of all sea turtles and at 120–150 years, have the longest life span. They have a flexible carapace, which enables them to dive to great depths, unlike most other species. Their diet consists mainly of jellyfish.

On 15 May, a pod of at least six Killer Whales were spotted about 300 metres from the creek mouth at Moggs Creek. They appeared to be mostly females and young, accompanied by one large male. They were heading eastward.

Lorne pier visitors were treated to the sight of a Southern Right Whale. The whale remained for some time, in water very close to the pier, breaching and rolling and providing onlookers with a perfect view of the animal.

A Hardhead Duck was observed swimming with Pacific Black Ducks at the Allen Noble Sanctuary. Hardheads are commonly seen at the Sewerage Ponds at Aireys Inlet.

The Wedge-tailed Eagles have returned to this area. In one day we saw three pairs: one at Bellbrae, another pair at Freshwater Creek and then also on the outskirts of Waurn Ponds. The following day, two were perched in a dead tree, in a paddock just off Forest Road. Breeding time for Wedge-tailed Eagles is from June to October.

Mike and Kaye Traynor

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