On Saturday afternoon, Chintu, the Green Sea turtle, who was rescued in a critical condition in November last year, gradually wobbled its way back into her natural habitat. The five-month-old was released into the ocean during high tide, as volunteers of Wildlife Conservation and Animal Welfare Association (WCAWA) cheered it on.
The turtle’s release was green-lighted by Dahanu Forest Department on Friday based on its ‘full’ score during two swimming ability tests held in the waters of Dahanu beach a few weeks ago. Wildlife veterinarian Dr Dinesh Vinherkar, who is associated with WCAWA that runs a turtle rescue and rehabilitation centre at Dahanu, said that it was a major victory. “When the 8 kg female turtle had arrived, not many had given it a chance.
Our volunteers had brought this beautiful green sea turtle in a completely emaciated condition, its head was taken over by barnacles and it had injuries. It could not move, as its muscle had gone into severe spasms.” An aggressive treatment over 15 days that included continuous saline and multivitamins helped it gain strength, he said.
Founder of WCAWA, Dhaval Kansara said that since the turtle had not lost any of its flippers, they were confident that it could be released into the sea. “All we had to do was ensure she recovered and got back in shape to swim in the sea. To get her ready, she was kept in a large container at our centre where she could keep paddling,” he said.
Vinherkar regularly visited the centre from Vakola to keep a tab on her. As soon as she began showing signs of good health, they decided to put her swimming abilities to test. “Before releasing any turtle into the sea, it’s necessary to check if it’s performing the required coordination movements. We conducted two tests in sea water. To ensure Chintu’s safety, she was released within the confines of a human chain made in the water along with fishermen volunteers,” he said.
After WCAWA was convinced that it was fit enough to survive alone, they approached the Dahanu forest department for permission to release it. “Releasing this turtle back into the sea was one of the most beautiful experiences. It could have died had it not been for the persistent efforts of WCAWA team,” said animal activist Fizzah Shah. Shah was invited for the release of the turtle, along with Deputy Forest Officer (DFO) NS Ladkat.