A sea turtle that arrived at the Aquarium of the Pacific with a fishing hook lodged in its esophagus about a month ago was released back into the wild in Seal Beach on Tuesday.
The female green sea turtle, named Aris-turtle, was stranded and rescued in the San Gabriel River and brought to the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach, where an X-ray showed a fish hook near its stomach. The turtle exhibited signs of weakness and dehydration, according to aquarium officials.
A checkup revealed that the animal was previously examined by biologists with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in the San Gabriel River in 2014, aquarium officials said.
A veterinary team at the aquarium subsequently performed endoscopic surgery to remove the hook from the turtle's esophagus and an attached fishing line. After a month of rest and recovery, the turtle was deemed healthy enough for release.
Staffers freed it near the mouth of the San Gabriel River on Tuesday. Experts chose the site because it's a common migratory habitat for that particular turtle species and for its warm water, the aquarium said.
The Long Beach aquarium has treated and released several sea turtles in recent years, fitting some of them with tracking devices that let scientists student their migration patterns. Aris-turtle has been microchipped and fitted with a metal flipper tag, the group said.
“We give them a second chance to get back out there, mate with other sea turtles, have more baby sea turtles, live their lives the way they want," said Dr. Lance Adams. "They’re really major ocean migrators so that turtle is going to go wherever it wants now.”
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife lists breeding colony population of green sea turtles on the Pacific coast of Mexico and in Florida as endangered, while others are considered threatened.