Sea turtles released at Beit Yannai Beach
Sea turtles released at Beit Yannai BeachGili Yaari/Flash 90

An injured sea turtle which was found in the Mediterranean Sea last week was released back in the sea after she was found to be pregnant and in imminent need of reaching the shore to lay her eggs.

Crew members of the Marine Mammal Research, Information and Assistance Center spotted the turtle struggling in the water off of a beach in northern Israel. When they approached the turtle, it stayed in place floating on the water rather than swimming away which is atypical behavior for a turtle.

The crew then noticed that the turtle's shell was cracked and decided to bring it to the Israel Sea Turtle Rescue center for treatment. Since the turtle weighs 143 pounds, bringing it aboard their boat was not easily accomplished. Three crew members struggled for quite a few minutes until they managed to lift it in their boat by placing a life jacket under it for traction.

Upon a veterinary examination and an ultrasound, it was found that the shell damage was not serious. However, the ultrasound also showed that the turtle was pregnant and in imminent need of laying her eggs.

"It was determined that the eggs were endangering her more than the shell damage since if the eggs weren't laid, they could cause serious complications," a Nature and Parks Authority spokesperson said. Turtles need to be by the shore to lay eggs since they first dig a hole in the sand. After the eggs are laid, they remain in the hole for approximately 100 days before hatching.

The turtle was able to successfully swim away when it was returned to the sea following a few days of treatment, rest and good nutrition at the Center.