Rescued turtle goes back to sea

Sagarika’s saga The turtle was put on a diet of fresh seafood for her recovery — Photo: U. James   | Photo Credit: U_JAMES

A large crowd gathered at the Neelankarai beach on Saturday to see a female olive ridley turtle being released into the sea. Thirteen months after it was rescued by volunteers of TREE Foundation, the turtle was nurtured back to health and let back into the waters.

‘Sagarika', as the turtle is fondly called, was found dehydrated, with a missing right fore flipper by four members of the Sea Turtle Protection Force of TREE Foundation at Uyali Kuppam on the East Coast Road on March 18 last year. She also had a deep cut on the carapace, the shell, presumably from the propeller of the motor engine in a fisherman's boat.

Over the course of its recovery, the turtle was put on a diet of fresh seafood, including crabs and squids, offered by the fishing community while the volunteers washed and cleaned her wound. The sea water in which she was kept was changed every day so as to aid her speedy recovery, a member of the Foundation said.

Sagarika was also introduced to a younger sea turtle that suffered multiple injuries after it got caught in an empty cement bag. Attributing such mishaps to callous behaviour by human beings, Dr. Supraja Dharini, founder-trustee of the Foundation, said that there was need for greater awareness among fishermen and ordinary people. “The turtle was saved and successfully released into the sea because of the active participation of the entire community,” she said.

On Saturday, Sagarika was taken on a boat, three kilometres into the sea, and let off near a rock formation which, according to fishermen, has an abundance of fish. This would make it easy for the turtle to feed, a fisherman said. A rust-free metal tag, with a unique number and contact details of the Foundation, was attached to her flipper to facilitate possible rescue in an emergency.

The olive ridley sea turtle is the only marine wildlife known to nest on beaches in the state and is an endangered species. Various efforts are being made, in recent times, to rescue the turtle and improve its population.

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Printable version | Dec 2, 2020 3:10:39 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/energy-and-environment/rescued-turtle-goes-back-to-sea/article3436925.ece

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