Green sea turtle released in memory of six men who lost their lives in Dianne tragedy

Green sea turtle released in memory of six men who lost their lives in Dianne tragedy

Family members have paid an emotional tribute to victims of the Dianne maritime tragedy by releasing a green sea turtle in their honour.

The fishing vessel overturned in a storm off the Queensland coastal town of Seventeen Seventy on October 16 last year.

Ruben McDornan was the sole survivor. His six friends Adam Bidner, Ben Leahy, Zac Feeney, Adam Hoffman, Chris Sammut and Eli Tonks all lost their lives.

Adam Bidner was 33 when he died and like three other men on board the boat his body was never found.

Yesterday his mother Kay and sister Jodie waded into the water at Moore Reef to help release the turtle, named Dianne in honour of Adam and his friends.

The turtle had spent a year in rehabilitation after losing a back flipper and a quarter of her shell following an attack by a tiger shark.

"It truly is beautiful that we can release her back out into the ocean to be with the boys," Jodie Bidner said.

"They're out there so sending her back full of love and messages to go back to the boys is again just amazing, it is a bit emotional obviously."

Ms Bidner said the whole family had become strongly attached to Dianne during the turtle's year-long recovery and the fact that it had been saved around the time of the Dianne tragedy was significant to her.

"The fact that she went through so much trauma herself, she was bitten by a tiger shark, the fact that she would survive that was amazing," she said.

"The boys would absolutely be honoured. The boys were divers and loved the ocean, and they loved turtles."

As part of a research project Dianne was fitted with a $6,000 GPS tracking device, which would help monitor her feeding patterns and movements including her location and depth.

Jennie Gilbert from the Cairns Turtle Rehabilitation Centre, who had managed much of the turtle's recovery, said Dianne had shown "she was a survivor" and would not be hampered by her injuries.

"Turtles are really resilient in the wild — they lose their flippers to crocodiles and sharks so it will have no effect," she said.

"It's a back flipper not a front flipper, which are used for speed as we all saw when we released her — she was gone."