By FloridaKeysNewsBureau For EyesOnNews.com, Sept 24, 2014 – We all remember the FedEx saying, “When it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight.” Which is exactly what the Turtle Hospital in the Florida Keys is relying upon.
“Sapphire,” a giant loggerhead turtle is transferred to The Living Coast Discovery Center in San Diego. After 4 years in the Florida Keys Turtle Hospital, Sapphire will be making her new home in San Diego.
Watch the video as Sapphire is prepared for the journey.
MARATHON, Florida Keys — A loggerhead sea turtle that has lived at the Florida Keys-based Turtle Hospital for about 16 months is being prepared for a cross-country trip via FedEx Thursday, to a “forever home” near San Diego.
Final prep work is being done for “Sapphire’s” approximately 2,500-mile sojourn to The Living Coast Discovery Center.
The 129-pound sub-adult female cannot be released into the ocean because it can’t dive without two pounds of weights glued to its shell. As the turtle continues to grow, the weights will fall off and new weights must be attached.
“She has ‘bubble butt’ syndrome,” said Turtle Hospital Manager Bette Zirkelbach. “She is unable to evacuate air from her lungs due to a spinal cord injury, so unfortunately for Sapphire, she is non-releasable.”
“Sapphire” was first rescued in February 2010 with a wound that came from a boat strike, Zirkelbach said. It was then known as “Leoni,” named after a street near the Keys canal where it was discovered. It was treated for 45 days at the hospital and freed after it appeared the turtle had made a full recovery. But in May 2013, it was discovered floating again off the Keys.
Soon after, Florida wildlife officials decided the turtle could not be released and required a “forever home.”
Of the 1,400 turtles the Turtle Hospital has treated and freed in the past 28 years, “Sapphire” is the only one that has returned, hospital records show.
Zirkelbach and hospital founder Richie Moretti are accompanying the turtle on FedEx flights from Miami to Memphis and then to San Diego in order to monitor its health and comfort.
“Unfortunately, Sapphire is non-releasable due to her spinal cord injuries, but the good news is that she will be able to go and act as an ambassador for her species, the endangered sea turtles,” Zirkelbach said.
Sapphire’s new home is to be a 21,000-gallon temperate ocean water tank, with a large acrylic underwater viewing area offering visitors the opportunity to get close to marine creatures. Educational messaging will explain the need to protect loggerheads and other sea turtles around the world.