The juvenile Hawksbill turtle found near-dead 8 months ago with a plastic shopping bag lodged inside her belly has made a remarkable recovery and has now been released back into the ocean. The Hawksbill turtle is listed as Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List of ThreatenSped ecies, so each specimen that can be rescued is important for the population.

Eight months ago the young female, who has been dubbed Alva by her caregivers, was found halfway up the beach, upside down, with her head buried in the sand, slowly dying in the sun. She was rushed to Townsville’s Reef HQ turtle hospital where x-rays revealed that a large piece of plastic stuck inside her had caused a severe gut blockage.

Tortue imbriqueeld4 Hawksbill turtle released back into the wild after eight months of rehabilitation

In addition to receiving treatment for the blockage, Alva was bathed, scrubbed and hand-fed by the turtle hospital staff who gradually nursed her back to life from the near-death experience.

We brought it back from brink of death”, said Reef HQ aquarium acting director Fred Nucifora. “That is the miracle.”

On May 21, Alva was deemed healthy enough to return to the sea and was released into the water in the Australian Great Barrier Reef Region.

It was emotional to say goodbye,” said Nucifora. “We’d like to think Alva turned back and gave us a heartfelt look, but it was barely a glance and, with a flick of the flipper, she was off.”