THIS week a rehabilitated Hawksbill Turtle was released back into the Red Sea, marking the end of a two-year journey of recovery for the turtle, known as Toto, handled by a team from Fakieh Aquarium.
Toto was brought to Fakieh Aquarium in 2013 after she was found dehydrated and trapped in a fishing net by a fisherman on the Red Sea.
Luckily the two-ton creature made a good recovery after veterinarians at Fakieh Aquarium treated her.
After months of caring for the turtle and guiding her back to full health, the team released her into the Red Sea.
Toto was fitted with a satellite tag so that the team can monitor and track her progress after she was released.
In a documentary about Toto’s treatment, the head of the Fakieh Aquarium team, Jay Bravo, said it was common for sea turtles to be injured and that there are few ways to protect the creatures.
“It is hard to prevent something like that of course; these animals are opportunistic feeders, so if they see bait they are going to go after it,” Bravo said.
“But this fisherman did a great job, he took the appropriate action; he called us to make sure this animal received help.”
“Our biggest concern is not whether she will be able to cope with the wild life at sea after having been confined to the aquarium’s tanks. What worries us the most is the probability of her mistaking a plastic bag for a jellyfish,” Bravo said.
Jeddah’s shores are notoriously polluted with plastic bags, dramatically increasing the risk of turtles like Toto ingesting them and choking to death.
“It only takes one plastic bag to kill her,” Bravo said. Numbers of Hawksbill Turtles in the Red Sea have been decreasing because of poaching for the turtles’ beautiful shell.