Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium is treating a sea turtle for boat-strike injuries after the Coast Guard rescued it June 15, one mile off of Longboat Pass.
The Coast Guard watchstanders at Sector St. Petersburg mobilized a marine vessel for Mote’s Stranding Investigations Program after a member of the public reported the stranding.
The 230-pound female loggerhead turtle had an unidentified sharp object sticking out of her shell and was unable to dive. Coast Guard officials lifted the turtle aboard their boat, cradled her on a large rubber tire and delivered her to the boat ramp at Ken Thompson Park, near Mote.
Mote staffers received the turtle in a truck and transported her to Mote’s Sea Turtle Rehabilitation Hospital with help from Coast Guard officials.
Coast Guard rescuers asked to name the turtle “Mrs. Turt Lee” after their superviser, Chief Boatswain Mate Ekahi Lee.
As of Tuesday, Mrs. Turtle Lee was in stable condition. She has fresh boat-strike wounds across her carapace, damage to her tail and right rear flipper and the mark of an old shark bite. She is receiving antibiotics, fluid therapy and other care.
To avoid striking turtles and other marine life, follow Coast Guard-approved safe boating guidelines and use vigilance. Stow trash and line when under way, because marine debris that accidentally blows overboard or out of a truck can be ingested by or become entangled around marine life.
In a separate incident on June 12, Longboat Key Turtle Watch volunteers found a nesting loggerhead turtle with a beach chair stuck on its shell. Volunteers freed the turtle while communicating closely with Mote scientists, and the turtle returned to sea without leaving a nest.
According to Mote, beach furniture can be an obstacle to nesting turtles and can cause false crawls — when a turtle emerges on the beach and circles back to sea without nesting. Turtles can also become entangled and carry furniture back to the sea to the beach. Mote recommends removing furniture from the beach every night during nesting season, or at least pulling it back to the dune line where vegetation meets the beach. Furniture left at the dune line should be stacked.
Contact Robin Hartill at [email protected].