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Successful loggerhead release at South Seas Island Resort

By Staff | Jun 21, 2017

CROW Rehabber Rachel Walsh (far left) with a handful of interns lift the female loggerhead out of the tank she was residing in while at CROW around noon Monday, June 12. MEGHAN MCCOY

A 190-pound female loggerhead sea turtle, which was found floating near North Captiva, was successfully released at South Seas Island Resort after being in the care of the Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife for a month.

CROW Rehabber Rachel Walsh said fishermen saw the loggerhead floating on May 12 and called Florida Fish and Wildlife, who then brought the sea turtle to South Seas Island Resort Marina. CROW picked up the sea turtle from the marina and brought her back to the hospital.

The loggerhead was extremely skinny when she was admitted, which staff believed was due to red tide. She also had a condition known as “bubble butt,” which causes them to float. Walsh said gas gets stuck in the gastrointestinal track, which makes it hard for them to submerge.

Fortunately, the bubble butt resolved on its own.

Once the loggerhead, believed to be 15-20 years old, was admitted she was put in a tank with fresh water for 24 to 48 hours. Walsh said they slowly increased the salinity until it was full salinity with ocean water. The loggerhead was also given fresh fluids and ate such foods as crabs and squids immediately.

The loggerhead sea turtle made her way to the ocean after being rehabbed at CROW for a month. MEGHAN MCCOY

The blood was rechecked, which helped in determining she was ready to be released.

The loggerhead was cleared to be released by Hospital Director Dr. Heather Barron on Wednesday, June 7. Walsh said they then contacted Florida Fish and Wildlife to find out where the loggerhead could be released.

“You never want to do a release on the weekends because of boating,” she said.

On Monday, June 12, the loggerhead was released on the beach at South Seas Island Resort on Captiva. A small crowd immediately formed as Walsh and a handful of interns began moving the loggerhead from the vehicle onto the stretcher.

Once the loggerhead was situated, the crowd followed CROW staff down to the beach and formed a wall right of the turtle giving her plenty of room. After the sea turtle was placed on the sand, she slowly began her trek down to the water before submerging and swimming from the shore.

As soon as her shell was covered with water, the crowd began cheering.