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Hybrid turtle released at Mon Repos

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An unusual hybrid sea turtle is back in the ocean after being released in Bundaberg.

Iluka (which means 'by the sea' in the Bundjalong language) has the head of a loggerhead turtle but the underside of a flatback turtle and arrived at Sunshine Coast's Sea Life Aquarium in February last year.

The turtle has been monitored at Sea Life for growth patterns to better understand how hybrids develop, in a collaborative research study with the Department of Environment and Science.

Sea Life Veterinary Nurse Brittany Attwood accompanied Iluka up to Mon Repos Turtle Centre where he was released off the beach this week.

She says she has loved working with Iluka and watching him grow and develop over the past 12 months.

"He came to us as a tiny hatchling and is now over 32cm long," Ms Attwood says.

“After a short walk down to the beach, I released Iluka into the ocean. This was a very slow process as Iluka spent about five minutes sitting and then moved slowly across the sand.

"Eventually a wave came in and the tide took him out into the ocean."

Iluka was microchipped, tagged and genetic tested before his release.

Image: Sea Life Sunshine Coast Aquarium