Sea World San Diego staff worked 10 months to treat the chelonian
A Pacific green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas) rescued 10 months ago by scientists with the National Marine Fisheries Service in La Jolla, CA has been nursed back to health by staff at Sea World in San Diego, CA and was released into San Diego Bay on Tuesday, reports NBC San Diego. The turtle, an endangered species, was found by the scientists suffering from dehydration, gunshot wounds to his neck, and a cracked plastron (shell covering his belly).
Staff with SeaWorld's Animal Rescue and Rehabilitation Program treated the then 250 pound chelonian with antibiotics, pain medications, and fluids, and repaired his shell, enabling the turtle to gain 50 pounds in the process. Researchers also outfitted the estimated 50-year-old turtle with an acoustic transmitter to help track his movements in the bay, where a colony of 70 turtles have been living for decades.
The marine park's rescue and rehabilitation program rehabilitates around two to three sea turtles each year, nursing them back to health over the course of up to 18 months, depending on the severity of their injuries as well as the temperature of the ocean water at the time of their recovery. If the turtle is ready for release in the middle of winter, when the water is in the low 50s, the park will wait until the water warms up, usually in the summer months.
The Pacific green sea turtle is found in sub-tropical and tropical oceans throughout the world. In the United States, they are found off the coast of Florida and the Gulf of Mexico. They can also be found in San Diego, CA, and a colony has also been established for decades around Seal Beach, CA.