GEORGE TOWN: The first loggerhead turtle (Caretta caretta) rescued near Pulau Kendi will be released once it is nursed back to health.
Tunku Abdul Rahman Aquarium manager Mohamad Saupi Ismail, who received the turtle when it was brought to the aquarium’s quarters, said the animal needed care as it was not healthy enough to fend for itself in the wild.
“According to the fisherman who first caught the turtle on Saturday, they had wanted to release it back into the sea.
“But when they released it, the turtle seemed unable to swim properly and was floating in an unbalanced manner.
“They then alerted the authorities and the turtle was sent here to be nursed, ” he said at the Fisheries Research Institute Malaysia in Batu Maung yesterday.
Rantau Abang Fisheries Research Institute marine mammals branch chief Mohd Tamimi Ali Ahmad said the turtle, which weighed over 60kg and measured 111cm in total length, was an endangered species.
“This species is internationally declared as endangered and is native in the Atlantic, Pacific, Indian and Mediterranean oceans, but not in Malaysia.
“It was probably just passing through the waters off Pulau Kendi as part of its migratory path, ” said Mohd Tamimi, who said the rescued turtle appeared to have been extremely stressed and traumatised.
“It did not appear to have ingested any plastic or other forms of pollutants.
“It could have just suffered from high levels of stress from being caught in the net as it is coughing up mucus from its nostrils and mouth.
“We will collect its mucus samples and run some tests to determine if it is suffering from any other illness, ” he added.
Mohd Tamimi said the institute would call in a veterinarian to run further checks on the turtle.
The loggerhead is the largest hard-shelled turtle and is carnivorous, feeding mostly on shellfish, crabs, sea urchins and jellyfish.
Named after their huge head and powerful jaws, they have a heart-shaped carapace which is often covered with commensal organisms such as barnacles and algae.
Members of the public who come across distressed marine animals may call the fisheries’ monitoring centre’s 24-hour hotline at 03-8888 5019.