Geri the three-flippered turtle s ready to return to the open ocean - here's what it took to get her release-ready.
Geri arrived at the Aquarium for rehabilitation on 25 July 2021. She was rescued at Paternoster weighing 48.5kg, and with her missing front left flipper amputation already completely healed - what was worrying at the time was actually the severe injuries to her front right flipper, which included lacerations deep enough to expose her bone.
Her remaining front flipper was injured, with what the team suspect was a predator bite wound on its underside, possibly by a small shark. This injury was infected, and Geri's wound needed to be debrided, and treatment of antibiotics, fluids, vitamins and analgesics was provided. Even in the initial days after her rescue, Geri was a very active turtle and regularly managed to unbandage herself. But, the rehabilitation team persisted!
Within three weeks of her arrival, Geri was active and eating - this was a very good sign, as sea turtles are prone to metabolic and digestive troubles that are very difficult to spot due to their slow systems. After careful monitoring, the turtle rehab team gave Geri a "soft release" into the Aquariums I&J Ocean Exhibit in September, this larger space giving her an opportunity to get some exercise and practice with her recovered flipper, and allowing the team to monitor her movements and behaviour.
Geri has certainly been a determined and feisty turtle during her rehabilitation journey, and we are incredibly pleased that she has completed her healing and will soon be returning to the ocean to contribute to the genetic pool of her endangered species. Follow the Two Oceans Aquarium Foundation for updates on Geri's upcoming release.
Can a three-flippered sea turtle survive?
Turtle's like Geri, with a missing front flipper, can thrive in the wild. Given time to heal, they quickly learn to compensate for their missing flipper by using the opposite back flipper to kick while swimming. Typically, sea turtles use their front flippers for propulsion, and their back flippers for steering and stability, to this new arrangement, takes a little getting used to!
Geri is not the first three flippered sea turtle the team has treated. In 2021, Arnie, a smaller green turtle, was successfully treated and released last year.
Looking forward to release
Geri, Harry and many other rehabilitation successes are due for release in the near future, once ocean conditions are ideal for these turtles to begin their journeys in ideal conditions!