A turtle that fought off a crocodile and survived being hit by a boat has been freed back into the Great Barrier Reef after more than a year in “hospital”.
Izzy, a green sea turtle, had an unlucky run in Queensland, Australia, before being rescued by vets.
Staff at the Reef HQ Aquarium’s turtle hospital, in Townsville, said she arrived in August 2013 dehydrated and underweight, suffering from wounds caused by the boat strike and crocodile bites.
After more than a year of treatment and rehabilitation, Izzy has now been freed to swim home to the Great Barrier Reef.
Vets said she was “fighting fit” and had put on 10kg of weight during her recovery to come in at a healthy 120kg.
Izzy and fellow patient Evie were released by Reef staff into a marine park at Bowen.
The aquarium is funded by tourists who are allowed to visit the sick turtles and learn how they are being treated.
Krystal Huff, who works with the ill turtles, said she loves seeing them return to health.
“It’s such a nice feeling to see them go back to the wild and doing what they should be doing out there on the reef,” she added
“I think they draw you in with those big eyes - they’re a very charismatic animal when you meet them up close. They’re just such a gentle, really beautiful animal and they’re so ancient and I think people can respect that they’ve been here so much longer than us.”
Fred Nucifora, director of Reef HQ Aquarium, said people visiting the aquarium feel a connection with the turtles.
He added: “You get to look this animal in the eye and people have told me that they have established a connection with the animal and that’s a really important thing – to be able to then to feel as though ‘I could do something to help this animal’s future’.”
In pictures: Injured turtles nursed back to health in Australia
Mr Nucifora said that Izzy’s release was a bittersweet moment for his staff, who were sad to see her go.
“Our staff develop connections with our turtles but we know our end game is to see them go back fit and healthy into the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. So while the release day is tinged with a touch of sadness, its more happiness when we see them go back,” he added.
Izzy has a satellite tag attached to her so Reef HQ will be able to follow her journey and keep her fans from around the world updated.Reuse content