The leatherback suffered from lethargy, dehydration, flipper trauma, and shock before being rehabilitated (Photo : Reuters)
A 7-foot long, 655-pound leatherback sea turtle, which was treated by the New England Aquarium in Boston for lethargy, dehydration, flipper trauma, and shock, was released back into the ocean off the shore of Cape Cod on Saturday.
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While the New England Aquarium's Marine Animal Rescue Team was initially contacted, only the New England Aquarium was equipped to rehabilitate the leatherback.
The leatherback, which is the largest reptile on the globe, is believed to have lost part of its flipper to an entanglement with a "vertical line in the water such as a lobster pot or a boat moring," writes the New England Aquarium. Entanglements and boat accidents are the primary causes of death for the leatherback in New England.
When the turtle was first rescued on Thursday, experts noticed that it was 345 pounds underweight from typical adult males of the species. The Aquarium notes that "more than twenty of the endangered leatherbacks have died in the region this summer."
The turtle's migration patterns bring it to the East Coast every June in search of Massachusetts jellyfish around Cape Cod. During September and October, leatherbacks migrate south.
According to National Geographic, the leatherback was "once prevalent in every ocean except the Arctic and Antarctic," but that its "population is rapidly declining in many parts of the world."
NatGeo also asserts that the turtle's shell is "somewhat flexible," with ridges to streamline its shape underwater. Leatherbacks can also dive "deeper than any other turtle" to 4,200 feet, and go without fresh air for 85 minutes