Two rehabilitated green sea turtles were released back to their ocean home off the Florida Keys Saturday to mark Earth Day in the subtropical island chain.
The two juvenile reptiles, named “Larry” and “Moe,” were rescued last year off the Lower Keys and diagnosed with fibropapillomatosis, a debilitating tumor-causing disease that affects sea turtles around the world.
Treatment at the Florida Keys-based Turtle Hospital included surgeries to remove the cauliflower-like tumors, broad-spectrum antibiotics, fluids, vitamins and a diet of greens and mixed seafood.
“There’s no better way to celebrate Earth Day in the Florida Keys than releasing two iconic sea turtles that were rehabilitated at the Turtle Hospital since November.” said Bette Zirkelbach, the Turtle Hospital’s manager. “Sea turtles are a symbol for our marine ecosystem.
“Helping to save sea turtles makes people aware to protect our oceans and there’s no better time to think of it (then) on Earth Day,” Zirkelbach added. “It’s great to celebrate Earth Day, but every day needs to be Earth Day.”
Before the releases kids and their parents, who enthusiastically applauded the released turtles, had a chance to see the turtles up close and learn from Zirkelbach about the need to protect oceans.
The Turtle Hospital, based in Marathon in the Middle Keys, is the world’s first state-licensed veterinary hospital solely dedicated to the rehabilitation of endangered sea turtles. The facility has been rescuing, rehabilitating and returning turtles to the wild for 37 years.