- Associated Press - Thursday, September 22, 2016

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - The Audubon Nature Institute says a green sea turtle that couldn’t dive 17 months ago has been rehabilitated and released into the Gulf of Mexico.

The turtle dubbed Bubba was released Wednesday from Port Fourchon, Coastal Wildlife Network stranding coordinator Gabriella Vazquez said Thursday.

She said Bubba, a juvenile about 10 years old with a shell about 15¾ inches long, apparently had been hit by a boat. The turtle had multiple injuries and gas was trapped under its shell when it was rescued April 25, 2015, Vazquez said.

She said someone called the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, saying that a sea turtle off of Leeville in Lafourche Parish was having trouble swimming. Biologists rescued it the same day.

X-rays revealed broken ribs, broken vertebrae and a broken pelvis. “He was pretty banged up,” Vazquez said.

She said Bubba also had a head wound, but the reptile’s skull was intact.

It would have taken expensive genetic tests or internal scoping to tell Bubba’s sex, Vazquez said.

“Until they get older, you can’t tell,” she said.

The turtle was kept in a pool just shallow enough to cover its shell for a couple of months, until veterinarians felt the animal could make it through a CT scan without additional injury.

“It was pretty much just rest and relaxation. … We avoided picking him up unless absolutely necessary,” Vazquez said.

The veterinary staff made weight pouches from marine vinyl, attaching them to Bubba’s shell using epoxy and Velcro to help the turtle submerge during further healing. After about two weeks with the weights, the back of Bubba’s shell stopped floating up, and the turtle was moved to a larger pool.

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