Jolly, a 330-pound giant green sea turtle was released off the Florida Keys Friday, after convalescing just over a month at the Marathon-based Turtle Hospital.
Jolly, nicknamed by Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officers Jeff Carroll and Olly Adams, who helped rescue the adult female turtle February 8th off Marathon, was returned to the wild after the reptile was discovered entangled in multiple crab trap lines.
Jolly is the one of the largest turtles ever to be treated at the Turtle Hospital, according to Bette Zirkelbach, the facility’s manager who said the turtle quickly recovered after a veterinary team partially amputated her right, rear flipper.
“Nesting season in the Florida Keys starts in April, so she being a mature female, she can get out there in time to date and hopefully lay some eggs.” Zirkelbach said. “It’s important to get a turtle this mature back out into the wild.
“They’re sexually mature, which means they’re reproductive, and sea turtles aren’t reproductive until they’re 20 or 25 years old,” Zirkelbach said. “Jolly is probably 50-plus years old so that’s why we want to make sure we get out so she keeps making baby turtles.”
The Turtle Hospital opened more than 30 years ago as the world’s first state-licensed veterinary sea turtle hospital. The facility, equipped with three “turtle ambulances” for patient transport, has treated and rehabilitated more than 1,500 injured sea turtles and assisted scores of hatchlings gone astray after exiting their nests.