On Valentine’s Day a 90-pound sub-adult loggerhead seat turtle was found floating in the Gulf of Mexico off Marco Island. On Thursday, March 11, members of the Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife (CROW) hospital in Sanibel, and Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve returned the rehabbed turtle back to sea from the beach in front of the Surf Club timesharing condominium.
According to the CROW Facebook page, on February 19, “A sub-adult loggerhead sea turtle was found floating in the Gulf of Mexico off Marco Island and transported to the CROW Clinic for care. The turtle was emaciated and covered in barnacles, a sign that it had been floating for some time. Veterinarians suspected the cause to be brevetoxicosis (red tide poisoning) and provided intravenous lipid emulsion therapy and fluids to help it recover. The lipids bind to the brevetoxins and are then eliminated from the body through the turtle’s waste. After a few days, the turtle started to eat and continues its recovery in an outdoor tank. It is still weak and thin but is making progress according to the rehabilitation staff.”
“He was found on Valentine’s Day,” said Jill Schmid, of Rookery Bay. “He’s a Valentine’s Turtle.”
The turtle was delivered to the parking lot at The Surf Club, at 540 S. Collier Boulevard, by Tim Thompson of CROW. Thompson said the turtle was in bad shape when it arrived at the Sanibel facility.
“His whole face was covered with barnacles,” said Tim Thompson of the turtle’s condition on February 14. “I can’t believe how good he looks from when I took him to CROW about four weeks ago. His face was really bad. I’m really surprised. He was like 70 percent covered in barnacles.”
The sea turtle is marked with a tag that was applied at CROW.
“They put a pit tag on them,” Schmid said. “A lot of times other tags will get barnacles on them and pop them off. Sometimes the pit tag is a little more reliable.”
As a crowd gathered, the workers unloaded the turtle and placed it about 25 yards from the surf. It immediately crawled directly into the Gulf and swam away.