Hundreds of spectators, including moms with their families, applauded staff of the Florida Keys-based Turtle Hospital Saturday as they released a 150-pound sub-adult loggerhead sea turtle that has been convalescing at the rescue facility in Marathon.
“Judy,” named by one of the individuals who helped rescue her, was found off the Lower Keys in early February entangled in a fishing trap line. The U.S. Coast Guard transported the sea turtle to shore, where she was picked up by a Turtle Hospital ambulance.
“Mother’s Day is a special time and having a female turtle like Judy that we know is going to go out there and when she hits maturity, (she’s) gonna be laying eggs,” said Bette Zirkelbach, manager of the Turtle Hospital. “It’s just a wonderful feeling for mothers and for everybody, really.”
The reptile was treated with broad-spectrum antibiotics, vitamins, lactulose and a healthy diet of squid and fish. Even though her left rear flipper was amputated, as a result of the entanglement, “Judy” is expected to do well.
Since it opened over 30 years ago in Marathon as the world’s first state-licensed veterinary sea turtle hospital, the Turtle Hospital has treated and rehabilitated nearly 2,000 injured sea turtles and assisted scores of hatchlings gone astray after exiting their nests. The facility is equipped with three turtle ambulances for emergencies and patient transport.