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‘Leonardo’ released from Pulau Mabul

By Sitti Nor Azizah Talata

Leonardo. SNT File Pix

SEMPORNA: Another rehabilitated green turtle has been successfully released from the Mabul Turtle Rehabilitation Centre on 3rd January, following a four month rehabilitation in the unit, run by Scuba Junkie SEAS and the Sabah Wildlife Department’s (SWD) Wildlife Rescue Unit (WRU).

Assistant Director of SWD, Dr Sen Nathan said they were happy that the turtle was able to be released back into the wild.

Leormado being given a complete medical chekc-up. SNT Pix/Credit SWD

“We thank SJ SEAS for their care and attention to the turtles in their rehab unit – it is fantastic work. It was a great way to start 2019 and a great example of how the government, NGOs and businesses can work together to protect the incredible biodiversity and wildlife of Sabah,” he said in a statement here today.

Leonardo, as the turtle affectionately became known as, was found by TRACC on Pom Pom island in shallow water. Lethargic, emaciated and covered in algae and small barnacles, it was obvious that the turtle was not in a good way.

TRACC’s Honorary Wildlife Warden co-ordinated with the WRU and SJ SEAS to get the turtle moved to the rehab unit that same day to commence treatment.

“It was hard to see a turtle in such a bad way. However we knew that the WRU and SJ SEAS had the facilities to intervene and hopefully save the turtle nearby, so we were hopeful,” said HWW for TRACC, Kit Wu Sien.

Although run under the guidance and directions of the WRU vets, the day-to-day care of turtles in the rehabilitation unit falls under the care of the marine biologists that run SJ SEAS and the HWWs employed by the dive operator, Scuba Junkie, who work at the Mabul Beach Resort.

Meanwhile Conservation Manager for Scuba Junkie SEAS, David McCann said it was great to see the turtle finally swim off.

“This is the ninth turtle we have been able to successfully rehabilitate in two years, and it is always a happy occasion if a bit ‘blink and you miss it’ as they swim off.

“Caring for sick and injured animals is not an easy task. We have learnt that over the years and are thankful to the WRU and SWD veterinarian and warden teams for their tireless work of caring for all the wildlife in Sabah.

“I have utmost respect for them and what they do on a daily basis. We are glad to be able to work with them to further the protection of such an iconic endangered species,” he added.

On the afternoon of  3 January, the vets, Dr. Carolina and Dr. Ai Yin, assisted by SJ SEAS, performed the final check up, which included a weigh in (with a healthy 2kg gained), measurements taken and tagging before Leonardo’s release back into the ocean. – SabahNewsToday