Sunday 24 June, 2018

'Sammy' the turtle given new lease on life

(Photo: Dr Phillips assesses Sammy at the University of the West Indies School of Veterinary Medicine)

(Photo: Dr Phillips assesses Sammy at the University of the West Indies School of Veterinary Medicine)

One lucky loggerhead turtle now has a new lease on life, thanks to the work of local environmentalists and medical researchers.

Veterinary surgeon and lecturer at the University of the West Indies School of Veterinary Medicine, Dr Carla Phillips, shared a public social media post over the weekend describing the rescue efforts which saved "Sammy" and helped her to return to the ocean. 

Dr Phillips said Sammy, a female Loggerhead, was found on Manzanilla beach and was 'minimally responsive', but was treated and released in what is thought to be the first rehabilitation case of its kind in Trinidad and Tobago.

"As many of you know, on Friday, June 30th, 2017, a young adult Loggerhead sea turtle, washed ashore on Manzanilla beach, Trinidad and Tobago."

"She was affectionately named "Sammy", after sea turtle conservationist Dennis Sammy who found her stranded on shore and minimally responsive. Sammy was unable to stay submerged when she attempted to dive, she could only float on the surface with an obvious right-sided tilt, she was not eating on her own and was passing no faeces."

(Photo: Sammy, having fully recovered, was successfully released at Manzanilla beach on Sunday.)

"We worked tirelessly, along with the support of a wonderful team of volunteers, to rehabilitate Sammy over the past 10 weeks and she has now made a fantastic recovery! This is the first known Loggerhead sea turtle rehab case for T&T and we are happy to report that the time has now come to re-introduce Sammy to the Big Blue!"

On Saturday, Dr Phillips said Sammy received her Trinidad and Tobago flipper tags and Geotag which will help the research team monitor her location and travels throughout the globe. 

On Sunday, Dr Phillips, along with team members as well as the El Socorro Centre for Wildlife Conservation and Forestry Division officers, looked on as Sammy, with a clean bill of health, made her return to the ocean. 

"SUNDAY's UPDATE: Mission accomplished, everyone!!! Sammy is back home in the Big Blue!! Sammy was transported back to her stranding site on Manzanilla beach, and at 2pm today, to the cheers of approximately 100 well-wishers, she was released."

(Photo: Team members gather to watch Sammy's departure.)

"After several minutes of re-orientation, Sammy made her way into the water. The rough surf initially posed a challenge, pushing her back toward the shore, but with a small measure of guidance from her rehab team, Sammy made her way beneath the waves and quickly swam out to sea."

"At 2:45pm the first satellite pass showed no indication of Sammy's Geotag on the surface, confirming that she had indeed swam out to the open ocean and at the time was completely submerged, thus making Sammy‚Äôs release a resounding success! We got a 'PING' from her Geotag at just around 7:15 pm. She's at sea, off the Manzanilla coast! WE DID IT!!!!"

The El Socorro Centre for Wildlife Conservation shared a post on Sunday as the turtle was released:

"An amazing Sunday at the beach with wonderful people who came to bid Bon Voyage to Sammy the loggerhead turtle. After 10 weeks of rehabilitation she was ready to go home. We cannot thank you enough for the support and help to make this day possible. The Geo tag on her back means that we will get some idea of her movements as she navigates the great blue and hopefully one day make it back to our waters safe and sound," the group said. 


(Photos: Dr Carla Phillips)