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Mote-rescued turtle will be released Monday

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  • | 4:00 a.m. October 4, 2013
  • Longboat Key
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A 300-pound loggerhead turtle nicknamed “Murph” will be released Monday on Lido Beach.

Mote’s Stranding Investigations Program got a call about a stranded turtle off of Turtle Beach earlier this summer and discovered a large loggerhead that appeared to be tethered to something underwater.

While the turtle could surface for air, it couldn’t get free. Wind drove the Mote team off the water before they could rescue him, but after winds subsided a few days later, Mote Stranding Investigations Program Manager Gretchen Lovewell and biologist Rebeccah Hazelkorn rescued the turtle with help from Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission marine patrol and helicopter, and Sarasota County and Longboat Key marine patrols.

The turtle was taken to Mote’s Sea Turtle Rehabilitation Hospital, where staff found that he had fishing and crab trap line tangled around his neck and flippers and even had two large shark hooks in his shell.

Because the turtle was rescued on Memorial Day, he was nicknamed “Murph” in honor of Navy Lt. Michael Murphy, who was killed in Afghanistan in 2005. Every Memorial Day, Crossfit gyms nationwide host a “Murph” workout — which Hazelkorn had done the morning of the rescue and so thought the name was a fitting tribute to a fallen officer.

Murph will be outfitted with a type of satellite transmitter that will provide insight on male turtle behavior in the wild.

He is believed to be the first male loggerhead on Florida’s West Coast to be tagged with a transmitter that provides information about temperature and depth, in addition to location.

Contact Robin Hartill at [email protected].


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