Marine biology students nurse sea turtle back to health

Around 10:45 a.m. on December 16, 2022, a floating male green sea turtle was found in the coastal waters of Punta Engaño, Lapu-Lapu City. 

The turtle was rescued by local fishermen together with personnel from the Lapu-Lapu City Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO) and immediately brought to the USC Marine Research Station in Maribago where he was handed over to the care of fourth-year Marine Biology students. 

The sea turtle was named Gretle by the students, who found signs of weakness and emaciation caused by his buoyancy problems or inability to dive to reach food. The students took the initiative to raise funds of over Php8T for Gretle’s veterinary consultation fees and internal examination. 

On December 23rd, Gretle was taken to a veterinary hospital for an X-ray scan which revealed no foreign object ingested. He was, however, diagnosed with a condition called the floating syndrome, an illness that results in a turtle becoming too buoyant so that diving for food becomes a struggle.

This illness is commonly caused by trauma from a possible boat collision or contact with explosives. Gretle was prescribed medication and underwent force feeding from December 26, 2022 until January 18, 2023. Marine Biology students took turns in nursing Gretle, which is recuperating at the Marine Research Station. 

A Marine Biology student force-feeds Gretle at the USC Marine Station in Maribago.

At this time, Gretle has already regained strength and is now able to dive and feed himself. His release is already being considered. In no time, Gretle will be reunited with his first love—the ocean.

Gretle’s journey to recovery would not have been possible without the effort and dedication of USC’s Marine Biology students. Also instrumental in Gretle’s recovery are individuals who have extended their help in this endeavor, namely Jonathan Apurado (marine turtle specialist), Dr. Alessandro Ponzo (founder and executive director of LAMAVE), Dr. Jun Chua Espinosa (attending veterinarian), Reynaldo Tobias (resident caretaker of USC Marine Research Station), and Happy Paws Veterinary Hospital.

The USC Marine Biology students would also like to extend their heartfelt gratitude to all individuals who took the time to respond to the call for donations and extended their generosity in helping Gretle.

Truly, passion and compassion go a long way.

by Charlene Rhay Dakay, Department of Biology

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