South Carolina

She’s free! 260-pound mama turtle attacked by shark off Hunting Island released to sea

After spending four months recovering from a shark attack, the hefty 260-pound mama loggerhead sea turtle that was found stranded off Hunting Island has been released back into the ocean.

Her recovery started slow — one sea turtle biologist predicted the process could last upwards of a year.

But this “feisty” gal, lovingly named Banzai, didn’t need that long.

Banzai was found stuck on a sandbar on June 3, when a St. Helena family walking along the beach mistook her for a kayak.

The family, park employees, and wildlife officials, worked together to save the at least 25-year-old turtle’s life and she was transported to the S.C. Aquarium in Charleston.

Banzai, a loggerhead sea turtle found stranded off Hunting Island, was released back into the ocean after spending four months being treated for her injuries after a shark attack. Friends of Hunting Island Sea Turtle Conservation Project Facebook

When she arrived, Sea Turtle Care Center staff named her Banzai, after one of the hyenas in the movie “Lion King.” All the turtles in the hospital were named after characters from “Lion King” and Harry Potter.

Banzai had been overheated and missing about 20 percent of a front and back flipper with some of the bone exposed, a staff member said. She also had cuts on her flippers and neck.

Throughout months of treatment, including antibiotics and cold laser therapy, Banzai gained 20 pounds and continued healing. Her “feisty” personality even began to come out the stronger and healthier she got, her treatment updates from the aquarium said.

After completing treatment, Banzai was released to sea on October 4.

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Lana Ferguson has reported on a smorgasbord of news for The Island Packet & Beaufort Gazette since June 2018. Before coming to the Lowcountry, she worked for publications in her home state of Virginia and graduated from the University of Mississippi, where she was editor of the college’s daily newspaper.
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