Boat tragedy relatives send messages of love out to sea
MESSAGES of love to the six men who died at sea in the FV Dianne tragedy last year were whispered to a sea turtle before it was released back onto the Great Barrier Reef.
Jodie and Kay Bidner, the sister and mother of lost crew member Adam Bidner, joined the release of the rehabilitated 20-year-old green sea turtle from Sunlover Reef Cruises' pontoon at Moore Reef, about 40km off Cairns.
The turtle, which had survived a shark attack, was rescued from the coral reef a month after the Dianne sunk off the coast of Gladstone, on October 16, 2017, claiming the lives of six men - including four whose bodies have not been recovered.
The lone survivor of the tragedy, Cairns man Ruben McDorman, suggested the reptile be named in honour of his fellow crew members.
Dianne, who lost a section of her shell and a rear right flipper to the shark, had been recuperating at the Cairns Turtle Rehabilitation Centre's facilities at Portsmith, and at the Cairns Aquarium.
Kay, who helped lower the turtle into the water, described the moment the reptile swam to freedom as "beautiful."
"This is a symbol of our four remaining lads out there," she said.
"Dianne was sent back with lots of love, and whispered messages from the families that have been to see her, but couldn't come today.
"To me, this is just beautiful: setting her free.
"She's back out in the environment where she's supposed to be."
Jodie said her brother was passionate about sea turtles, and would have loved to have been present for the release.
"It's really special to me, that we can be out here and help with the volunteers doing such a fantastic job - and just so honoured to have the turtle named after the boys," she said.
Turtle Rehabilitation Centre co-ordinator Jennie Gilbert, who knew Mr Bidner for many years, said he had helped build the turtle hospital's intensive care facilities in Portsmith.
She said having his family present for Dianne's release was a fitting tribute.
October 16, 2017
MV Dianne capsizes in rough seas north of 1770.
Ruben McDornan, 32, escapes and clings to the hull.
Zac Feeney, 28, Eli Tonks, 39, Adam Bidner, 33, and Chris Sammut, 34, Ben Leahy, 45, and Adam Hoffman, 30, do not survive.
Ruben McDornan rescued by passing catamaran. He had clung to the Dianne's hull for five hours before it sunk and spent the night holding onto floating debris.
Police divers search sunken vessel, recover two bodies identified as Ben Leahy and Adam Hoffman.
Police scale back search.
February 21, 2018
Dianne is salvaged, brought ashore at Bundaberg.
Australian Maritime Safety Authority mandates compulsory float-free EPIRBs.
Families release Dianne the turtle back into the ocean in honour of the victims.