Endangered turtle returns to ocean
Exactly 200 days after two fishermen found her bobbing aimlessly off the North Shore and gasping for every breath, Daisy the loggerhead turtle has been returned to the open ocean.
The endangered creature was on the brink of death, suffering from pneumonia and serious lung complications when she was brought into the Bermuda Aquarium, Museum and Zoo last December.
Her arrival prompted an unprecedented response from hospital doctors, vets and marine experts from the aquarium and numerous volunteers that culminated in yesterday's successful release.
It was the end of a remarkable journey for the 74 kilogram turtle that began with a CT scan at King Edward VII Memorial Hospital followed by an operation lasting 3½ hours to remove a large rusting hook from her trachea, and then months of meticulous rehabilitation work to ensure she was ready to return to the wild.
Yesterday as she was taken out to North Rock on board the aquarium boat Endurance, Daisy was joined by many of the people responsible for her survival, including anaesthetist Andrew Spence, radiologist Daniel Stovell and aquarium curator Ian Walker.
The loggerhead turtle was fitted with a satellite tag, which will be funded by the Neil Burnie Foundation, to track her movements over the next six months before she was lowered into the ocean at 2.26pm. Initially she stayed close to the boat, giving underwater photographers Chris Burville and Choy Aming a final close-up farewell, before taking in a large lungful of air and disappearing into the depths of the Atlantic.
Marine experts have high hopes that her return to the wild will be successful.
“We do not really know where she will go next,” Dr Walker said. “It will be very interesting to follow her progress with the satellite tag.
“She stands the best possible chance of survival that we could have given her.
“Her release is the result of a huge team effort from the radiologists at the hospital, to the doctors who conducted the surgery to the thousands of hours put in by our aquarists and volunteers over the last seven months.
“We are extremely grateful to everyone who has been involved in this project, including the Ministry of Environment.”
Dr Spence told The Royal Gazette: “It has been wonderful to witness this event and to see how much progress she has made since the operation.
“This is something very different for me, but very special nonetheless.” Dr Stovell added: “We always try to help where we can and we were fortunate in this case that the turtle was just small enough to fit in the CT scan.
“It has been a great experience to see this case go full circle and see this turtle returned to the wild.”
Daisy was not the only turtle to be released yesterday. A small green turtle that was tangled up in fishing line and rescued in St George's Harbour on July 9 was also set free.
The animal was monitored for a week at the aquarium to ensure she was healthy enough to be returned to the wild.