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SCCF staff rescues adult male loggerhead

By Staff | May 10, 2010

The 300-pound loggerhead after being taken out of the boat and strapped to a board for transport.

A loggerhead sea turtle was rescued near Bunche Beach on the morning of Thursday, May 6 by SCCF Marine Laboratory and Wildlife Habitat Management staff members, assisted by several local groups and a canoe fisherman. 

The 300-pound male turtle was slightly emaciated and apparently had been ill for a while. It was taken to Sea World in Orlando, Fla. for further medical treatment.

The turtle had been seen in San Carlos Bay since last Tuesday. On Wednesday, a boat from the Lee County Sheriff’s Marine Unit — assisted by two other private boats — searched for an hour in the area where the turtle had been sighted but had been unable to locate it.

On Thursday morning, Steve Zubal was fishing from his canoe when he spotted the turtle, which was obviously in trouble and swimming on its side. SCCF was notified and Sea Turtle Coordinator Amanda Bryant, Herpetologist Chris Lechowicz, Snowy Plover Technicians Heather Porter and Joel Caouette, Marine Lab Research Associate Mark Thompson and Research Assistant Sabrina Lartz took an SCCF Marine Laboratory boat out to look for the turtle.

Zubal kept the turtle in sight until the boat arrived. However, each time the Marine Lab boat neared, the turtle dove. Zubal unsuccessfully tried to use his seine net to restrain the turtle. 

SCCF Sea Turtle Coordinator Amanda Bryant measuring the turtle on the dock at Tarpon Bay.

Finally, Mark Thompson jumped into the water, swam over and held the turtle in place until the boat could maneuver over to it. The turtle was brought up into the boat and taken back to the Marine Lab on Tarpon Bay. 

There, they were met by Collier County staff, who helped get the turtle off the boat and into a van, where it was transported to a waiting Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission staff person in Fort Myers. From there, it was taken to Sea World with CROW’s recommendation.

The turtle’s shell was three-and-a-half feet long and three feet wide. Bryant estimated that it weighed about 300 pounds, noting that a turtle that size should weigh more. It had apparently been ill for some time (also indicated by the presence of many barnacles on its head).