Arya the Green Turtle felt the cool waters of the Timor Sea for the first time in nearly a year when she was successfully released back into the ocean after her stay at Charles Darwin University’s Turtle Rehabilitation Centre.
Found injured in the Dundee Beach area in June last year, Arya has been recovering from damage to her shell that required surgery and a blood transfusion.
ARK Animal Hospital vet Dr Rebecca Webster, who was treating Arya, said data on blood transfusions between turtles was limited.
“Especially relating to this case where we were having to use blood from a different turtle species, in this case a large Hawksbill Turtle in CDU’s rehabilitation centre,” she said.
“Happily, the blood transfusion was a success and so was the operation to fix the physical damage to Arya’s shell. It’s not every day as a vet you have to give a turtle a blood transfusion and with not much knowledge to refer to it was very satisfying to know it had been a success,” she said.
Arya’s injuries were thought to have been the result of being struck by a boat or a lucky escape from a predator such as a crocodile.
But by mid-July Arya was recovering well and going for swims in a large tank and getting her appetite back – enjoying a diet of squid and shrimp.
In August last year, Arya was transferred from the ARK Animal Hospital to CDU’s Turtle Rehabilitation Facility.
Senior Technical Officer in CDU’s VET School of Maritime and Seafood Training, Kathy Kellam said Arya had packed on the weight – always a good sign in a recovering animal.
“Ayra weighed less than 6.5 kilograms when she was recovered from Dundee Beach but by March this year she was more than 11.5 kg and quite happy and feisty when being handled. When she left our rehab centre she weighed 13 kg,” Ms Kellam said.
Earlier this month, Arya was declared fit for release. The combined efforts of the ARK Animal Hospital and CDU have helped a turtle, which would most likely have died, regain health and be ready to be released back into the ocean.
Dr Webster and CDU Aquaculture Technician Daniel Costa carefully transported Arya to Dundee Beach for her release. The turtle was released in the water in a spot protected from the currents.
After a few tentative flaps of her flippers, Arya had her bearings and was off, disappearing from sight back into her natural home.
“It’s a bit sad to see her go because we get to know the turtles in our care and you get attached to them,” Mr Costa said.
“But the aim of CDU’s Turtle Rehabilitation Centre is all about being able to help sick and distressed turtles regain health and return to the natural environment,” he said.