Rescued turtle in Kudat released back into wild after a month

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Klowyi about to be released back into sea by a Wildlife Department vet after a clean bill of health. ― Picture by Julia Chan
Klowyi about to be released back into sea by a Wildlife Department vet after a clean bill of health. ― Picture by Julia Chan

KOTA KINABALU, May 12 ― In a sea of turtles, one green turtle nicknamed Klowyi is a lucky one.

After a month of receiving daily care and attention at the hands of wildlife veterinarians, Klowyi was saved from near certain death, nursed back to health and was released back into the sea today.

A month ago, people from the Kudat Turtle Conservation Society notified the Sabah Wildlife Department’s Wildlife Rescue Unit about a turtle they found off its coast, which suffered from a buoyancy disorder called floaters syndrome that makes them float near the sea surface and unable to dive.

Unable to submerge, they are susceptible to injuries from a boat’s propellers, and most turtles in Klowyi’s position would likely die from a boat strike or eventually, malnutrition.

Department assistant director Sen Nathan said that the young female turtle was examined and found to be in decent health aside from the excessive air trapped in its lungs, and would need to have the air removed before it could be returned to the wild.

“We usually house these animals in University Malaysia Sabah’s Borneo Marine Reseach Institute but the vicinity was under EMCO at the time so we had to find somewhere to place it that was near the coast,” said Sen.

Five star resort Shangri-La’s Tanjung Aru Resort and Spa stepped out and offered to let the vets use their marina and the Clownfish Discovery Centre to nurse Klowyi back to health.

“An x-ray was taken and she was found to have excess air in her lungs. The exact cause of her syndrome was not known as she had no blackages in her system but it could be from a bacterial infection in her lungs.

A procedure called Coelomocentesis was performed to expel air from the body cavity via a needle through her abdomen, and a total of 3.5 litres of air was aspirated.

After more health checks, Klowyi was certified ready to be let back into the wild.

A team from the department, the resort and Sabah Parks accompanied Klowyi as they released her near Gaya island in the Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park this morning.

“It’s some good news amidst the current gloominess of Covid-19. We are proving that conservation of wildlife still a priority. Its a nice success story story for us because the usual survival rate for those afflicted by floater’s syndrome is 20 per cent,” said Sen.

Resort general manager Timothy Sainsbury said the resort was glad to play a role in the rehabilitation of one turtle and the environment at large.

Green turtles are a protected species in Sabah and are classified as endangered and critically endangered respectively by the World Wildlife Federation.

Its population in Sabah has dwindled over the years as fishing, consumption of turtle eggs and poachers threaten their existence.

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