Visitors, state officials and the news media positioned themselves to take pictures as a green sea turtle returned to the sea yesterday.

Turtle returns to sea
after removal of spear

PUU OLAI, Maui >> Pulling itself with its flippers over the sand, a green sea turtle recovering from surgery to remove a spear through its neck and head returned to south Maui waters yesterday.

The juvenile turtle, identified as "C-5" on its shell, took less than a couple of minutes to travel about 15 yards across Black Sand Beach into the water.

"This turtle is really strong," said state wildlife biologist Skippy Hau. "I'm glad."

Hau, who helped in the rescue and the release of the turtle, said he didn't know how well the turtle would do in its return to the ocean, but that the surgery gave the turtle a better chance of survival.

The 6-inch spear went from the right side of its neck and into the head but missed its brain.

Hau said the spear had locked the jaws of the turtle and prevented its from eating.

Hau and several other state workers, who received a call about the turtle, assisted in its rescue in 20 feet of water about 50 to 75 yards off Puu Olai.

The turtle was flown to Oahu for the surgery by veterinarian Dr. Robert A. Morris on Friday and returned yesterday afternoon.


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