The Caraplace

The world’s first turtle health research facility at JCU provides an environment in which to study sea turtle health in great detail under suitable conditions.

In the indoor ‘Caraplace’ we can house 48 little green sea turtle hatchlings – each in their own tank – where they can freely eat, swim and rest on a sub-surface platform. The facility caters for the needs of the turtles under near natural conditions, but it also enables us to  study  them close up,  which  is  impossible  to  do  in  the  wild.

The outdoor ‘Turtle Nursery’ will protect hatchlings from predators while allowing them exposure to sunlight via retractable shade sails that will keep them cool in summer and warm in winter. The construction of this is about to begin in the next few weeks and we are very excited.

There is a lot of husbandry to get through every day in order to make sure all the needs of the residents are well catered for and along the way we have become experts in how to do this. Thankfully a really amazing team of volunteers are contributing to this and some take the opportunity to sign up for a Blue Apprenticeship.

Of course it helps that the residents are ridiculously cute.

The ‘Caraplace’ before renovations…

Previously used as the piggery, building 85 had been vacant for several years. The building was the prime location for a turtle health facility as it had access to sea water tanks, was separate from existing research facilities to limit cross contamination and was in relatively good shape.

However, there was a lot of work to be done: the area outside with water storage containers was not well-maintained, and inside, the original pig pens had to be removed and walls, floors, lighting and plumbing repaired.

What is now a meeting room was once a surgery and wet laboratory, which had also been abandoned for better facilities.

The ‘Caraplace’ after renovations…

Keeping the Caraplace and its residents in the best possible condition requires a lot of constant time, effort and money. If you would like to donate to help feed and house the hatchlings, click here.

The ‘Outer Shell’

Opened in May 2018 after a lot of hard work and some very generous donations, the Outer Shell extension to the Caraplace research facility provides the young turtles with a secure outdoor nursery area in which they can swim about and bask in the sun throughout the day.