Long Beach Aquarium Rehabilitates and Re-releases Turtle Into the Wild

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Photos courtesy of the Aquarium of the Pacific. 

Months ago, an endangered juvenile loggerhead turtle with a poorly functioning flipper was spotted by officials at the Aquarium of the Pacific, off the coast of Southern California.

Aquarium Veterinarian Lance Adams placed the turtle in a behind-the-scenes tank to survey the situation, determining the flipper would never work properly, and would, in fact, further endanger the turtle.

The began the journey of “Char Char” the turtle, named after the Pokémon character Charmander.

Char Char’s flipper was amputated at the elbow joint and the turtle made a full recovery, according to aquarium officials. He was re-released into the wild in September with a tracking device, living out the rest of his normal life span with vigor.

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“Despite missing one of its front flippers, Char Char is still capable of living a full life,” aquarium officials told the Post.

The officials cited Jeffrey Seminoff, who leads the National Marine Fisheries Service Turtle Ecology and Assessment Program, stating that it’s common for sea turtles, particularly around Australia where they are more prone to attacks from sharks, to survive and thrive with just one front flipper.

“While their swim stroke is slightly different, their migratory paths are indistinguishable from those of turtles with two front flippers,” officials said.

The entire aquarium staff was pleased with the results that came from helping Char Char.

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“Releasing Char Char back into the wild after a full recovery was very rewarding and exciting for the veterinary staff at the aquarium,” said Julianne Barron, RVT, a Veterinary Technician at the Aquarium of the Pacific. “It has also been interesting to track his movements on seaturtle.org, as of Dec 1st, Char Char has travelled 349 kilometers [216.8 miles]!”

It has been a happy ending for a turtle of a species that is listed as endangered internationally and threatened (soon to become endangered) in the US, according to The Sea Turtle Conservancy. 

In March of this year, another juvenile loggerhead turtle, named "Coco," was also rescued by the aquarium and rehabilitated. This time, it was for lethargy. As the turtle didn't have any other injuries, he was re-released into the wild with a tracking device a mere month later, and is currently thriving. 

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