02/24/2013 at 5:33pm
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
"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
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!