Sea turtle released after 14-month rehab for broken shell
Andre, shown here in March, was released into the ocean Wednesday after 14 months of treatment.
August 4th, 2011
05:20 PM ET

Sea turtle released after 14-month rehab for broken shell

A marine conservation center in Florida has repaired an injured sea turtle's shell with materials used in human orthodontia and  released it back into the ocean Wednesday.

Beachgoers in Juno Beach, Florida, discovered a green sea turtle on Father's Day of 2010. "Andre" was floating close to shore with two gaping injuries from boat propellers in his shell. One wound exposed his spinal cord while the other had filled with three pounds of sand and was badly infected, said Melissa Ranly, hospital coordinator at Loggerhead Marinelife Center. Ranly said she "got in the turtle ambulance" to bring Andre in to the center.

Despite the severity of his injuries, which also included a collapsed lung, Andre was not acting like an animal that was ready to die, Ranly said.

"Even from the time we got him in the sling and in the ambulance that day, we saw that he had a kind of energy to him that we didn't expect," Ranly said. "We just noted that this turtle was strong. Even though he had these really severe wounds, he just had this life about him and was in it for the long haul."

Andre's unusual tenacity called for some unusual veterinary care, Ranly said. The center borrowed a negative pressure wound vacuum to clean out the newer, sand-filled injury and re-inflate Andre's lung. Once the injuries inside the shell were healed, the veterinary team sought to fix the damage to the shell. They contacted an orthodontist, who used palate expanders to position Andre's shell so that it would heal.

As Andre regained his strength over the past year, he attracted a large following of fans who would monitor his progress in person or via a webcam, Ranly said. Many of Andre's  supporters went to see him released into the Atlantic Ocean on Wednesday.

"Because he had so many obstacles to overcome, I think people really embraced the story," Ranly said.

Ranly said injuries like Andre's are relatively common in South Florida, where there is heavy boat traffic. The way to avoid them, she said, is to operate boats at a slow enough speed that turtles surfacing for air will have time to dive out of the boat's way.

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Filed under: Animals • Florida • Turtles • U.S.
soundoff (33 Responses)
  1. JB

    I had the same problem with one of my nuts.

    August 4, 2011 at 5:28 pm | Report abuse |
  2. yada

    I went to rehab once for my broken shell. It works. What an amazing uplifting story. Thanks CNN. See? There are positive stories out there. Best wishes Andre! Live long, stay strong! And steer clear of those crazy boaters.

    August 4, 2011 at 5:38 pm | Report abuse |
  3. CSnSC

    Everytime I see one in the wild its as exciting as the first time. Cool animals.

    August 4, 2011 at 5:49 pm | Report abuse |
  4. NO WAY

    @fernace: I notice that you are trying to take out our Queen banasy. You will never bring her down. You don't have the finesse that she has. You sound ordinary compared to her. You sound like you grew up in a toilet. need a lot of class, so forget it.

    August 4, 2011 at 5:55 pm | Report abuse |
  5. raven

    Aw.. I love love LOVE a happy ending .

    August 4, 2011 at 6:32 pm | Report abuse |
  6. fernace

    @ NO WAY, I love banasy & consider her1 of my blog friends! No Way would I ever think of "taking her out" whatever that means! You don't have to like my posts or even read them, just know I come in Peace & enjoy my blog friends! Nice of you to stand up for banasy, but you're preaching to the choir!!

    August 4, 2011 at 6:48 pm | Report abuse |
  7. raven

    We all love our banasy .and i think fernace fits right in.

    August 4, 2011 at 6:52 pm | Report abuse |
  8. fernace

    Nice to know some people will help an injured animal! Kudos to Andres team of good samaritans, & good luck to the turtle on his new adventure! Shout out to Happy Feet, the stranded penguin in New Zeeland, hope he's good too!!

    August 4, 2011 at 6:53 pm | Report abuse |
  9. fernace

    Thanks raven for your vote of confidence! Really appreciate it!!

    August 4, 2011 at 7:01 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Joey Isotta-Fraschini

    I have not read anything from fernace that seemed to attack banasy.
    Each is very intelligent and educated, with useful insights regarding many topics.
    I have enormous respect for both of them.

    August 4, 2011 at 7:17 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Joey Isotta-Fraschini

    I think that "NO WAY" may have been one of our nastier trolls.

    August 4, 2011 at 7:19 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Joey Isotta-Fraschini

    Andre sounds like the kind of guy I like: one full of tenacious power to survive, overcoming his obstacles instead of letting them keep him down.

    August 4, 2011 at 7:40 pm | Report abuse |
  13. gung hoe

    Hey got that right there joey we could all take a life lesson from that turtle

    August 4, 2011 at 8:00 pm | Report abuse |
  14. NO. WAY.

    Fernace, you are doing it again, don't try to use her phrases or sayings, they don't fit you.

    August 4, 2011 at 8:05 pm | Report abuse |
  15. NO. WAY.

    Joe, no one is talking to you and no one cares about your opinion.

    August 4, 2011 at 8:06 pm | Report abuse |
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