Image Source: https://www.postguam.com/
A sea turtle found distressed in the waters off Gab Gab Beach on U.S. Naval Base Guam last December has recovered and was released back into the ocean over the weekend.
The turtle, who was named Shelly, was helped back into the water on Saturday by the Guam Department of Agriculture’s Division of Aquatic and Wildlife Resources, the NBG Environmental Division and UnderWater World, according to the Navy.
“It’s important for the turtles to be returned to the same general area where they were found. At this age they use visual cues, so they tend to feed and live in areas that are familiar to them,” said DAWR biologist C.J. Cayanan. “For us it’s always nice to be able to work with our partners to rehabilitate the turtle and release them back into their natural habitat.”
Shelly weighs about 50 pounds and is estimated to be between 15 and 20 years old.
UnderWater World’s Senior Aquarist Rafael Calderon and his team rehabilitated Shelly over the past 10 months by feeding her and monitoring her in preparation for release.
“She had a blockage in her intestinal system and we gave her some mineral oil and she was eventually able to pass the blockage and then we fed her until she was able to feed on her own,” said Calderon. “Releasing Shelly reassures me that what I’m doing is the right thing, by rehabilitating the turtles and sending them back so they can repopulate. It is kind of sad – I saw her every day for 10 months and now she’ll be gone and back in the wild.”
The Navy base’s Environmental Division has a program to monitor sea turtles, and placed a device on Shelly to track her movements.
“We will now be able to track her movements and learn about where she goes to feed and reproduce,” said Ann Colt, a natural resources specialist with the division. “This type of information is invaluable to help us develop conservation and protection measures while she is a guest of Guam.”
Residents are advised not to touch, feed or bother turtles, and officials said if you see a distressed turtle floating in the water or on the beach, stay in the area until the proper authorities arrive.