A new turtle ambulance is about to hit the road to give stranded marine turtles a better chance of survival.

Townsville’s Carmichael Ford has again shown its support for Reef HQ Aquarium’s turtle hospital by donating one of the newest editions to its fleet — a Ford PX Ranger Dual Cab.

The vehicle will replace a similar four wheel drive donated by the company three years ago which became Reef HQ’s first ever turtle ambulance.

Reef HQ director, Fred Nucifora, said having a vehicle that can handle the weight of marine turtles and provide beach access where needed was integral to the turtle hospital’s operations.

“The previous turtle ambulance worked along most of the Great Barrier Reef coast, from Cairns in the north to Mackay in the south, becoming a highly recognisable vehicle and symbol of environmental conservation and protection,” he said.

“Given some turtles are up to two metres in length and up to 150 kilograms in weight, it’s important to have an appropriate vehicle to transport them.

“This is a particularly generous donation, and I think it signals just how much community support there is for the work that we do in caring for these iconic animals.”

Dealer Principal of Carmichael Ford, Glen Sharp, said as one of the turtle hospital’s founding partners he was pleased the company could continue its support.

“The first turtle ambulance has been a great success, helping the Reef HQ team to provide essential care to sick and injured turtles. But now, it’s time for an upgrade,” he said.

“Marine turtles have had a difficult time in recent years because of the damage done by heavy flooding to seagrass meadows which are their main food source.

“This is our way of providing more support for their care and rehabilitation, while simultaneously raising community awareness about the plight of these vulnerable and much-loved animals.”

Since opening in 2009, Reef HQ Aquarium has cared for 125 turtles — many of which have become well enough to be released back into the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.

More than 60,000 visitors have also passed through the hospital’s doors to learn more about marine turtles and how we can all do our bit to care for them.

The most common ailments affecting stranded turtles are lung infections and gut impactions which can be caused by consumption of rubbish or food that obstructs digestion. When the foreign material starts to decompose, gases leak into the body cavity, causing the animal to float which in turn prevents them from being able to dive for food.

The biggest human-related threats to marine turtles are boat strikes, entanglement in fishing gear and ingestion of synthetic material such as plastics.

To report a sick, injured, stranded or dead marine mammal or turtle, contact 1300 130 372.