Rehabilitated Sea Turtles released into the Ocean

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TREE Foundation’s Rescue and Rehabilitation team in the months from December to April every year receives many calls regarding stranded turtles along the east coast. Frequently they are injured or dehydrated, and are unable to go back into the oceans due to their poor condition. TREE Foundation’s Rescue and Rehabilitation centre at Neelankarai is run with special permission from the Chief Wildlife Warden, Tamil Nadu Forest Department and is the only dedicated sea turtle facility in the state. The rescued turtles are taken to the Tamil Nadu Veterinary College, Vepery, as soon as they have been stabilised. They are then administered the necessary treatment and medications to aid in their speedy recovery. They are placed in spacious tanks with salt water and fed daily with a healthy diet consisting of fish, squid, crabs and shrimp.

This year the foundation had received turtles with flipper injuries, carapace (shell) injuries, extreme dehydration and entanglement in fishing nets and buoys. Now it is time for three of our stranded turtles who have been nursed back to health to return to the ocean, their natural habitat. The first turtle Sara, a young olive ridley was found stranded in a dehydrated state along the Periya Neelangarai beach on 4th March 2017 during the regular night patrol by Pugalarasan STPF. She was found with her left fore flipper cut off and also had an injury on the left eye too. The second turtles Samudhara, an adult female turtle was found stranded along the shore of Alambarai Kuppam beach, on 1st December 2017 by Govind and Pream the STPF. she was found in a weak state with her front left flipper chopped off. For many months she could not lie down in her tank as she had a bouncy problem which she could have sustained when she may have hit the boat while falling back into the water after her flipper was chopped off.

The bouncy problem was cleared just a few months back. The third turtle Navi, a juvenile olive ridley was found on 5th October 2018. The little turtle’s left fore flipper was entangled in one and half kilograms of ghost net and was listless along the Thiruvanmayur beach by the SSTCN members. The net had tunicated the fore flipper and gangrene had set in so the flipper had to be amputated. Dr Jayaprakash helped in the treatment procedures. The turtles were released off the coast of Periya Neelankarai on May 25th 2019 at in the presence of Inspector General S. Paramesh, PTM, TM, Commander Indian Coast Guard (Region East); Mr. G. Naga Sathish IFS, District Forest Officer, Kancheepuram, Tamil Nadu ; Dr. P. Dhandapani, Retired Deputy Director, Zoological Survey of India, Honorary Expert Advisor for TREE Foundation, Sea Turtle Protection Force Members and members from TREE Foundation.

The turtles were taken by boat 3km off shore and released near the rock formation where a wide variety of prey fish are always found. This was in order to make it easy for them to feed and readjust to the open ocean once again. Dr. Supraja Dharini, Chairperson, TREE Foundation said, “Seeing then return to the ocean and knowing the challenges they will face can be a very bittersweet feeling. Deep down though we know that, despite the challenges they may face, their life belongs in the ocean so that is where they should rightfully be.Rehabilitating injured turtles calls for more volunteers, if you wish to assist in their rehabilitation or to contribute towards their care and medical requirements please contact: 94443 06411 or email treerootsandshoots@gmail.com

                                                                                                                        -By ELWYN

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