655-Pound Sea Turtle Rescued

By Amir Khan on September 25, 2012 2:51 PM EDT

A giant 655-pound sea turtle, described as "a swimming dinosaur," has been released back into the ocean this weekend after veterinarians saved its life, according to officials at the New England Aquarium.

The 7-foot long leatherback turtle was found "near death" on late Wednesday night near the town of Truro, Mass. One of its flippers was severed, either by a predator or by a run-in with a boat. There was a straight line of damaged tissue, aquarium officials said, which points to the turtle becoming ensnared in a lobster pot or boat mooring.

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The injury to the flipped would have made it impossible for the turtle to forage for food and opened the animal up to infections. Veterinarians gave it drugs to stabilize its blood and oxygen levels, and released it over the weekend.

Leatherback turtle rescues are rare because the animals live in open water and cannot live in captivity. At 655 pounds, the sea turtle is considered small when compared to its fellow 1,000 pound leatherbacks.

Leatherbacks travel to Cape Cod every June to feed on jellyfish, according to the aquarium. They migrate south beginning in September and through October.      

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