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10 Dec 2020

Female turtle loses fin due to plastic in ocean

(Northglen News) Picture: Saambr/Facebook

A juvenile green turtle, with a plastic sack wrapped around its front left flipper, was admitted into the care of the uShaka Sea World turtle rehabilitation team recently.  The female turtle was found stranded on a beach that is about 1km north of Bhanga Nek. The team named her Maia that means courage or bravery in Maori.

“Although she was alert and responsive on admission, she appeared very tired. We administered fluids, removed a large portion of the bag and left her to rest for the night. It was evident that she would need to undergo surgery the next morning as she had lost 65 per cent of her flipper as a result of the damage caused by the plastic bag,” said senior quarantine aquarist, Malini Pather.

The surgery was a success and a large portion of the necrotic tissue was removed without any blood loss. Blood samples and radiographs were taken. These will help give the team a better understanding of the turtle’s state of health. Maia showed symptoms of infection and was also placed on two courses of antibiotics.

“Maia’s flipper was completely necrotic. We suspect that she had been entangled for a while before being found. We are not yet certain what infectious processes she is currently fighting. Turtles are, however, incredibly resilient creatures and are able to adapt with three flippers in the wild. We currently have two other resident turtles who have three flippers each, Tripod and Shelley. They have both adapted very well. Maia is an exceptionally beautiful animal with an incredible fighting spirit and we are doing our best to help her recover,” explained Malini.

Tripod is due for release in the next few weeks. Shelley is still recovering from surgery and will stay at the rehab centre until the team is confident she will flourish upon release.