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Rehabilitated Turtles Return to the Sea Featured

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About 100 turtles ranging from 8 months to a couple years of age were released at Mai Khao beach, Phuket, Thailand into the waters of the Andaman Sea. About 100 turtles ranging from 8 months to a couple years of age were released at Mai Khao beach, Phuket, Thailand into the waters of the Andaman Sea. Photo by Joseph Holland


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Photo by Joseph Holland

Politicians and Publicity Stunts

Phuket's Gorvernor Maitri Inthusut in a traditional silk Thai jacket released the first turtle out to sea in a publicity stunt for the cameras. The event took place at the JW Marriot in Mai Khao in efforts to showcase their CSR (corporate social responsibility). The Mai Khao Turtle Foundation, The Turtle Hatchery Program run by the Royal Thai Navy, and the Injured Turtle Rehabilitation Program run by the Phuket Marine Biological Center organized and facilitated the event for hundreds of onlookers.




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Photo by Joseph Holland


Jellyfish are a main food source for these creatures, and when confused with plastic, serious injuries may occur. Many of the turtles ended up in the rehabilitation programs due to major complications with eating plastics, as well as boat propeller collisions. The other week, I, being very unaware of my own surroundings, poured myself a glass of water and began drinking it. In an instant, I felt this cutting, scratching in the back of my throat that dammed the water from going down my throat. I coughed it up. It had been a clear flimsy piece of plastic, not bigger than an inch, from a water bottle top that had fallen into my water pitcher. The sensation was worse than chocking on food. If that is what the turtles feel, I cannot imagine how these fellows don't die from the stress before being found. Here they were, clearing the ocean of one of the scariest things on earth, and they end up choking on a mouth full of plastic




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Photo by Joseph Holland

Wait for it

Turtles instinctually wait for the tide to go out to before being swept into the sea. They dig their flippers into the sand, propel themselves forward, until the last thing you see is their multicolored backs submerging beneath the breaking waves.




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Photo by Vida Mikalcius

That's a tag on his belly

Onlookers who gave a donation of 2500 baht (about $83) were offered the opportunity to release one of turtles back into the wild. They carried the turtles, holding them beneath their front flippers down to the water right before the tide. The turtles then towed themselves back into the sea. Unfortunately, some donors plopped the turtles right into the water, a practice which was soon caught and eliminated. The purpose of placing the turtles on the sand, was to engrain the notion that they must return to the beach to nest.





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Photo by Joseph Holland

To the future

The event drew to a close around sunset, the last and some of the youngest creatures maneuvered around a few nosy swimmers who could not keep a respectable distance away from the turtles. May each turtle, live a long life, away from boat propellers, fishing nets, and floating plastics, while gorging heavily on jellyfish.