BRISBANE, Australia - Grave fears were held for "Noel" when she was released back into the wild after having a flipper amputated.
But the resilient 204-pound (93-kilogram) green sea turtle, who was fitted with a tracking device, has proved it is no handicap by swimming more than 1,612 miles (2,600 kilometers) since last December.
"This is a mindblowing achievement, given she only has three flippers," the head of Australia Zoo's rescue unit, Brian Coulter, told the Courier-Mail newspaper.
"It is very important research because it shows that amputee turtles can survive. Some institutions have euthanased them in the past, thinking they would not make it."
"Noel" was taken to Australia Zoo's Wildlife Hospital, established by 'Crocodile Hunter" Steve Irwin, after being found entangled in a crab pot float line in Moreton Bay Marine Park, near Brisbane.
Named after a Christmas carol, her left front flipper was so badly damaged that it had to be cut off.
After six weeks of rehab she was released and tracked paddling around Moreton Bay before heading on a mammoth trip south to Sydney.