After approximately 30 minutes of slowly moving parallel to the water, a young female green sea turtle finally made her way into the surf at Lighthouse Beach after CROW Veterinary Intern Spencer Kehoe placed her closer to the water's edge this morning.
A crowd of curious spectators gathered around the green sea turtle with cameras in hand trying to capture the slow, but successful release today. CROW's staff were on hand to keep individuals at a safe distance away from the sea turtle, so she could find her way back to the water.
Kehoe said he believed that the spectators may have played a role in confusing her route to the water, or the sea turtle may have had an inclination to go in her chosen direction for feeding. Although it took her some time, he said the release is the most rewarding part of his job because the green sea turtle is back where she belongs.
With only one in 1,000 hatchlings making it to adulthood, Kehoe was excited they could release the green sea turtle, so it can one day repopulate.
The location of Lighthouse Beach was chosen because there were no reports of red tide, karenia brevis.
The green sea turtle was rescued April 2 after she was found floating in the waters beyond North Captiva.
"She was quiet and pretty down for the first couple of days," CROW Rehabber Brenna Frankel said.
During those first days at the hospital, the green was dry docked with cool towels, while keeping her hydrated. She was then given tub time, in which she was very quiet once again.
"We were constantly keeping an eye on her and keeping it shallow, so she wouldn't drown," Frankel said.
One day, she just took off and was happy again, which was around the same time the condition known as "bubble butt disappeared." The condition forms when gases in the GI tract has passed, or trying to pass, a symptom of red tide.
"The bubble butt resolved probably in the first five days or so, so she (could) submerge and she can go about being a normal turtle," she said. "When they have bubble butt they get stuck on the surface. They are constantly fighting to try to get down and try to get fish, so very easily fatigued and also easy prey, especially in our waters. She was most likely just extremely exhausted and dehydrated."
The green ate a little bit, mostly such greens as lettuce, broccoli and zucchini, for the majority of her stay at CROW. The day before she was released she ate her first crab.
Although all of her symptoms pointed to red tide, and her blood work had not yet been released, CROW received clearance to return her back to the ocean.
"We were given the go ahead to just release her without getting the blood work back, since she is doing so phenomenal here at treatment," Frankel said.
The female green sea turtle is about 25 pounds and most likely 5 to 7 years old.