When Australian rangers found a sea turtle tangled in abandoned fishing nets five years ago, things didn’t look good for the poor creature.
Lou had put up quite the fight trying to escape, permanently injuring himself in the process. One of his flippers was already gone, and the other was damaged beyond repair. He probably wouldn’t have survived in this condition — at least not in the wild. But he couldn’t have ended up in better hands!
After spending months in a veterinary hospital, during which he had his damaged flipper amputated, Lou was brought to Cairns Turtle Rehabilitation Centre, a nonprofit dedicated to rehabilitating sick and injured turtles.
There, Lou learned to swim again by using his tail as a rudder. While his recovery took years, his resilience amazed volunteers!
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“He struggled for a long period of time to get his balance, but after a lengthy rehabilitation, he was diving, eating at the bottom of the tank, and moving at speed if required,” said Jennifer Gilbert, the organization’s cofounder.
This year, the day finally came when they could release Lou back into the wild!
While the thought of Lou fending for himself with only two flippers may make some people nervous, Jennifer explained that the ocean is the best place for him. Lou is an olive ridley sea turtle. As the species is vulnerable to extinction, he is needed to boost their numbers.
“There was always hope he would recover and be returned back to the wild where he belongs,” Jennifer added. “Being an adult male olive ridley, it was important that he went back.”
What’s more, the rescue will be able to monitor his safety, as he was fitted with a satellite tracker. You can follow his adventures alongside them here!
On October 28, Lou made his way back into the ocean from Pennefather Beach in Cape York. The little fighter has already traveled more than 78 miles!
This incredible journey back into the wild would never have been possible if not for the dedicated staff members at Cairns Turtle Rehabilitation Centre. You can help them facilitate more animal rescues by donating here.
Share this story to cheer Lou on as he enjoys his new life back in the sea.
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