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Sea turtle returns to sea after SeaWorld rehab

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SeaWorld releases Canadian sea turtleSAN DIEGO — A green sea turtle found stranded and far off-course in chilly Canada early this year was returned to the ocean after a six-month rehabilitation stint at SeaWorld San Diego.

“Comber” was given a clean bill of health and fitted with a satellite transmitter before being released on Thursday, park officials said.

The turtle was discovered in January near Combers Beach on Vancouver Island, British Columbia. He was taken to the Vancouver Aquarium and transferred to SeaWorld in April.

Comber was cold-stunned — a hypothermic reaction that occurs when sea turtles are exposed to prolonged cold water temperatures, according to park officials. The Vancouver Aquarium staff treated him by gradually warming his body and providing intravenous fluids.

Once his condition stabilized, he was flown to San Diego by the U.S. Coast Guard and transferred to SeaWorld. Park veterinarians examined the turtle, and took X-rays and blood samples to get a complete assessment of the turtle’s health.

Following six months in a warm-water rehabilitation pool, Comber was deemed healthy enough to return to his ocean home.

Found mostly in tropical and sub-tropical areas, Pacific green sea turtles are a threatened species in the eastern Pacific Ocean and are the largest hard-shell sea turtle, growing to about three feet in length and weighing up to 350 pounds.

The satellite tracking will provide researchers with an opportunity to see if Comber demonstrates appropriate survival movements and behaviors now that he has been returned to the ocean.

SeaWorld has come to the aid of six sea turtles so far this year, plus more than 430 marine birds and over 425 marine mammals.