Float­ing tur­tle dives back into the sea

Treated For Ex­cess Gas, Buoy­ancy

The Times of India (Mumbai edition) - - TIMES CITY - Rizwan.Mithawala@ times­group.com

Mum­bai: An en­dan­gered green sea tur­tle, rescued by fish­er­men in Saphale more than a month ago, made it back to the sea on Fri­day. The tur­tle suf­fered from ‘float­ing syn­drome,’ which ren­dered the rep­tile un­able to dive. It was nursed back to health at the sea tur­tle treat­ment cen­tre, jointly run by the for­est de­part­ment and the Wildlife Con­ser­va­tion and An­i­mal Wel­fare As­so­ci­a­tion (WCAWA) in Da­hanu.

Float­ing syn­drome, a con­di­tion caused by ex­cess ac­cu­mu­la­tion of gas in the body, can be life-threat­en­ing for sea tur­tles. A buoyant tur­tle can nei­ther es­cape preda­tors nor can it dive down to eat. Such tur­tles are also vul­ner­a­ble to boat hits and get­ting en­tan­gled in fish­ing gear. “It’s a vi­cious cy­cle,” says wildlife vet­eri­nar­ian Dr Di­nesh Vin­herkar, who treated the tur­tle. Star­va­tion leads to fur­ther gas for­ma­tion, he says, adding while the for­mer makes the tur­tle weak, the lat­ter re­duces its swim­ming abil­ity. Buoyant tur­tles are also sus­cep­ti­ble to de­hy­dra­tion due to con­stant ex­po­sure to the sun, ex­plains Dr Vin­herkar. “Their shells can also crack,” he says.

More than a foot long, the fe­male young-adult tur­tle was lucky to re­ceive med­i­cal help in time. It was rescued by WCAWA vol­un­teer Pratik Wahur­wagh and Dr Vin­herkar treated it for two weeks af­ter which it started div­ing in the swim­ming tank. Ini­tially force fed, it later started eat­ing on its own. The next two weeks it was given multi-vi­ta­mins and plenty of food so it could gain strength.

As Da­hanu’s deputy deputy con­ser­va­tor of forests N S Lad­kat re­leased the tur­tle, WCAWA vol­un­teers, their eyes moist, watched till she dis­ap­peared into the deep blue. “The feel­ing is be­yond words,” said WCAWA founder Dhaval Kansara.

Rizwan Mithawala

The green sea tur­tle inches her way back to the sea at Da­hanu beach on Fri­day

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