Out of the sea she came, but something terrible had happened, for, she was badly wounded. Will she get help? Will she be healed? Sagarika was lucky, for she was found by people who cared enough to take care of her.

On March 18, 2011, two fishermen, Sarveswaran and Deivasundaram were walking on the beach. At the water's edge, they saw something that looked familiar. “What is a sea turtle doing here?” they said and ran to take a closer look. The sea turtle had a deep cut on its back (carapace) and front left flipper.

A few years ago, the fishermen would have tossed it into the sea and walked away. But campaigns with Tree Foundation, an organisation that cares for sea animals, had taught them that they could help the turtle get well.

They called the Tree Foundation. The turtle was taken to the Veterinary Hospital for first-aid. With the vets assuring them that the treatment would help her get well, the volunteers took her to the turtle shed — a nursing home, at The Tree Foundation office.

Kids came to see her, older ones to feed her and clean her tub. She was named “Sagarika”. She came out of the sea, right?

With medicines, turmeric baths, fresh fish to eat and a lot of attention, Sagarika got better. Her shell shone with the beautiful markings. She also got bigger.

A year later, it was time for her to return to the sea, her real home. On the evening of May 19, 2012, Dr. Supraja Dharani of Tree Foundation invited people to give Sagarika a farewell.

Fishermen volunteers spoke about the importance of preserving animals and what we should do if we see an injured sea creature. Kids could pet Sagarika and many took photographs. Her tub was put in a small, open motorboat, which vroomed! into the sea. Some distance into the sea, there was an underwater rock formation where Sagarika could find a lot of fish.

She was taken out of the tub and gently eased in. She hesitated a bit, but soon began to swim. A fisherman jumped in to help her find her way, to calm her in the open sea. He moved around with her in the rolling waves and made sure she went out into the vast ocean.

We clicked pictures and said bye-bye. “Go Sagarika, have a safe journey in the ocean. And come back whenever you feel like. On this shore you will be safe.”