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Loggerhead turtle with front flippers bitten off by a tiger shark is recovering at uShaka Sea World

Turtle only has one-third of her left flipper and two-thirds of her right flipper. | Saambr

Turtle only has one-third of her left flipper and two-thirds of her right flipper. | Saambr

Published Jan 11, 2022

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DURBAN – uShaka Sea World plans on taking it a step at a time in the recovery of an adult loggerhead turtle (Caretta caretta) which was admitted on Saturday after being bitten by a tiger shark.

uShaka Sea World’s Ann Kunz said both the turtle’s front flippers were bitten.

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“Although she only has one-third of her left flipper and two-thirds of her right flipper, she is able to navigate through the water and come to the surface to breathe,” Kunz said.

She said members of a local dive charter, Mokarran Diving, who were at sea on Aliwal Shoal, witnessed the tiger shark turning around and biting her second flipper after noticing some abnormal behaviour in the water.

On arrival, the turtle, now named Jina, was assessed by the resident veterinarian at the South African Association for Marine Biological Research and was found not to be bleeding heavily and appeared to be in good condition other than the injuries to her flippers.

Turtle only has one-third of her left flipper and two-thirds of her right flipper. | Saambr

“She was given pain relief and left to rest in a shallow pool. She was given the name Jina which is a name given to conquerors and victors,” Kunz said.

Kunz said over the next few days, the turtle rehabilitation team will continue to watch Jina closely, administer pain medication and leave her to rest and recover from the initial trauma.

Senior aquarist Malini Pather said: “At this stage, we will be taking each day one step at a time until her condition appears more stable. We certainly hope that she will be victorious and are doing everything in our power to assist her recover.”

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Kunz added that Jina’s injuries were almost the same as Keena, a loggerhead turtle which was admitted on December 27, 2020, with similar injuries. Keena has recovered from her ordeal and although she will never be able to survive on her own, she is a competent resident in the open ocean exhibit.

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