JEKYLL ISLAND, Ga., July 8, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- After more than two years of intensive rehabilitation and care, Mahi, a juvenile green sea turtle who was rehabilitated by The Georgia Sea Turtle Center, was released at 1 p.m. Tuesday, July 7, on Vilano Beach in St. Augustine, Fla.
Prior to her release, she was carried around to "say goodbye" to several hundred of her supporters by members of her rehabilitation team, including Rachel Thomas, GSTC rehabilitation technician, and Nancy Condron, a trustee for Whitney Laboratory who brought Mahi to the Center.
Discovered by a hiker in St. Johns County, Fla., in January 2013, Mahi was tangled in fishing line around the leg of a picnic table. The extensive damage caused by the line wrapped around her front right flipper, and the ingestion of the fishing filament, meant the odds of survival were not in her favor.
Upon rescue, Mahi was immediately rushed to GSTC on Jekyll Island, Ga., where veterinarian and Center director, Dr. Terry Norton, preformed emergency surgery to remove the fishing line inside her stomach. The next day, still concerned about Mahi's flipper, Norton made the decision to amputate the right front flipper. Just five days after the surgery, Mahi was able to swim in a deeper tank and began to eat again.
Multiple surgeries, treatments and special wound care were required for Mahi's recovery, and they all came at great expense. The GSTC shared Mahi's story with patrons, guests and friends. Moved by her story, more than 1,200 people adopted Mahi, a record in the Center's history. Without the support of GSTC donors and her adoptive parents, Mahi would not be where she is today. The financial support from each adoptive parent made Mahi's substantial treatment and care possible.
"The outpouring of support Mahi received during her rehab was incredible," said. Norton.
In early May, Mahi, which means "very strong" in Hawaiian, was flown to Gulf World Marine Park in Panama City, Fla., for "sea turtle boot camp," in preparation for her release. There she learned how to dive and swim in deep water with her amputated flipper.
The GSTC adoption program is a unique learning experience and gives adoptive parents the opportunity to follow along throughout a turtle's care. Adoption costs $50 and parents receive a personalized Certificate of Adoption, a letter from their turtle, a 4×6 photo of the turtle, their name listed on the turtle's Web page and monthly updates on the turtle's progress. To learn about sea turtle adoption visit: http://bit.ly/TurtleAdoption. See Mahi's journey in pictures here: http://bit.ly/MahiTimeline. For more information about the Georgia Sea Turtle Center, visit www.gstc.jekyllisland.com.
Jekyll Island is a unique, state-owned barrier island, which balances conserving and preserving natural, historic and cultural resources, with providing accessible, affordable recreation, vacation and educational opportunities for the people of Georgia and beyond.
SOURCE Jekyll Island Georgia Sea Turtle Center