Green sea turtle returned to sea months after apparent shark attack

Green sea turtle returned to sea months after apparent shark attack

Outdoors

Green sea turtle returned to sea months after apparent shark attack

A large green sea turtle named Guacamole, nursed to good health in the months after apparently falling victim to a shark attack off Florida, was returned to the ocean Monday amid cheers from handlers and well-wishers.

The accompanying footage shows the 285-pound female turtle being unloaded from a vehicle and placed gently into the surf at Lori Wilson Park in Cocoa Beach. Instincts kicked in and Guacamole soon vanished into her natural home.

The Brevard Zoo, which had been caring for Guacamole, posted the video to Facebook on Tuesday, along with this description: “Something BIG happened yesterday: Guacamole became the first adult green sea turtle we’ve ever released!”

Green sea turtles, which are listed as endangered globally, sometimes become prey for large sharks.

Guacamole the green sea turtle with injured flipper. Photo: Brevard Zoo

Guacamole arrived at Brevard Zoo last February after being found on on the shore in Cocoa Beach missing part of one of her flippers and suffering from “predator wounds” wounds to her head and neck, according to the zoo’s website.

She had been wearing a tag from Playa del Carmen, Mexico, so she had covered a great distance. She was skinny, weighing only 200 pounds, and had to be tube-fed initially.

But during treatment she began taking algae from handlers, then other food such as squid, lettuce, and sea grass.

Guacamole goes home after seven months of treatment. Photo: Brevard Zoo

“We raised the water level in her tank so she has to swim around using her flippers more and she is loving the challenge!” reads an update from last May. “Her flipper wounds are healing so well, we have stopped treating the left front flipper wound and are just wrapping it for stability. What an amazing turtle!”

In late July, Guacamole tipped the scale at a robust 250 pounds. Plans were being made for her eventual release.

An update from Aug. 25: “Guacamole had an excellent checkup and is healing well. She now weighs 263.4 lbs. We are supporting her dietary needs with shucked clams and lots of macroalgae, so she will reach her more natural adult green sea turtle weight. We are continuing to treat her Caryospora parasite infestation. We hope one more round of medication will do the trick.”

By mid-September, Guacamole was parasite-free, and the release date was set for Monday at 3 p.m. local time. “Wear green to show your support for the first adult green sea turtle we’ve ever released!” the zoo stated.

About 200 people showed to watch Guacamole swim to freedom. Hopefully, she can steer clear of sharks.

–Images are courtesy of Brevard Zoo

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