ANNA MARIA, Fla. (WFLA) – Two loggerhead sea turtles are back in their natural environment after months of rehabilitation and care.
One of the turtles, nicknamed “Valerie,” was found floating nearshore Longboat Key. It is believed the turtle was suffering from red tide toxins. She was admitted to Mote’s Sea Turtle Rehabilitation Hospital on February 21.
“Mahomes” washed ashore on Casey Key in Sarasota County. After being admitted to Mote’s hospital on February 13, he was later transferred to The Florida Aquarium for care. At the time, Mote’s hospital was ‘overwhelmed’ with patients.
“Our hospital was full and the turtles just kept coming, so when we reached capacity, that is when we reach out to our partners and colleagues in the field to help out,” said Gretchen Lovewell.
Lovewell says only 1 in 1000 sea turtles make it to adulthood, so getting to help rehabilitate injured turtles is really special.
“These are the most awesome days when we get to not only do this with our friends and partners but also get to see them go back,” said Lovewell.
Right now, Mote’s rehabilitation center is on track for a busy year. They’ve already recovered more than 90 turtles so far this year.
“On a normal year, we recover about 100 and we are already at 90 in almost June, so we definitely have had quite a few extra animals this year due to the red tide,” said the expert at Mote.
If you see a stranded or dead sea turtle, dolphin or whale in the Sarasota and Manatee County area, you’re asked to call Mote’s Stranding Investigations Program, a 24-hour response service, at 941-988-0212. If you spot a stranded sea creature elsewhere, you’re urged to call the FWC Wildlife Alert hotline at 1 (888) 404-FWCC (3922).