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Mote Marine releases rehabilitated, tagged loggerhead turtle off Lido Beach

Posted at 11:46 AM, Feb 08, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-16 11:01:19-04

SARASOTA CO., Fla (WWSB) -- Mote Marine Laboratory released a subadult male loggerhead turtle off of Lido Beach on Friday.

The loggerhead, named Sea Salt, was also fitted with a satellite tag and can be tracked at seaturtle.org.

“The release went very well,” said Lynne Byrd, Medical Care and Rehabilitation Coordinator for Mote. “It is always a great day when we are able to release these animals back to their home.”

The turtle was found by local anglers off of Holmes Beach in Manatee County on Oct. 30. The turtle was then transported to Mote’s Sea Turtle Rehabilitation Hospital where upon arrival he seemed very lethargic.

Mote medical staff gave the turtle daily fluids because he didn't want to eat. The animal was also given antibiotics to treat an elevation of white blood cells due to infection.

On the day of release, the turtle was fitted with a satellite tag, a tracking device about the size of a cell phone that transmits data when the turtle surfaces to breathe.  

The tag allows scientists to better understand how rehabbed turtles reorient in the wild.

"By tracking turtles like Sea Salt, we can learn more about the behavior of adult male sea turtles; they never return to land like females do, so it's difficult to study them,” said Kristen Mazzarella, Mote Senior Biologist. 

These tags can also collect depth data and teach scientists more about an animal's diving behavior.

Prior to 2017, Mote has fitted 125 sea turtles with satellite tags (some on the same turtle a few years later), five of which were rehabilitated adult males.

“We have learned from previously tagged males that they travel long distances to encounter females during nesting season and that males also have foraging grounds which they use annually,” Mazzarella said. 

Within Sarasota or Manatee county waters, if you see a stranded or dead sea turtle, dolphin or whale, please call Mote's Stranding Investigations Program, a 24-hour response service, at (941) 988-0212.

If you see a stranded or dead manatee anywhere in state waters or a stranded or dead sea turtle, dolphin or whale outside of Sarasota and Manatee counties, please call the FWC Wildlife Alert hotline at 1 (888) 404-FWCC (3922).