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Sea Turtle

02/24/2013 at 5:33pm

Big BelSea Turtle Found off FMB
After Isaac Returned to the Wild

A loggerhead sea turtle nicknamed "Big Bel” that has been treated in Mote’s Sea Turtle Rehabilitation Hospital since November was returned to the wild today, Feb. 22, from Lido Beach.

Big Bel was found stranded off of Fort Myers Beach after Hurricane Isaac passed through the area at the end of August, said Bob Wasno, Facilities Manager and Public Outreach Coordinator at Florida Gulf Coast University’s Vester Marine and Environmental Science Field Station in Bonita Springs.

"I received a call from Turtle Time that tourists had phoned in a sick sea turtle on the south end of Fort Myers Beach. Everyone was preparing for the hurricane so I grabbed one of my interns from Toulouse University to help and picked up a buddy and his wife on the way,” Wasno said.

The turtle was about 50 yards off the beach in a shallow swash channel and was extremely lethargic. Wasno, along with intern Marine Fuhrmann and David and Tricia Kessel — and some bystanders who were on the beach — helped carry the turtle to a truck so it could be transported to the Vester field station. After a few days, Turtle Time, which monitors sea turtle nesting on Fort Myers Beach, picked the turtle up and transported it to CROW, a wildlife rehabilitation facility on Sanibel.

In November, Big Bel was transferred to Mote for additional treatment.

During its time in care, veterinary staff removed an incredible 22 pounds of epibiota growth on its carapace (living things like algae and barnacles). The turtle, a female, was believed to be suffering from lethargic loggerhead syndrome and also had old wounds, including missing part of a front flipper and most of a rear flipper. After months of treatment by CROW and Mote, Big Bel was finally ready to return to the wild on Friday.

With a crowd gathered on Lido Beach Friday to wish her well, the 214-pound turtle was set down on the sand near the water — and she crawled right in and then quickly disappeared!

Adam Sinclair

 

Photo Credits:

Mote Marine Laboratory