During a night-security shift at Gasparilla Inn in Boca Grande, Warren Watters was walking through the inn’s beach club when he noticed an object near the shallow water just off shore.
At 3 a.m Watters walked closer to the shore, and because the night sky was lit by a full moon, he was able to find a lethargic loggerhead turtle. Watters alerted the Boca Grande Sea Turtle Association, and on May 22, the turtle was brought to Mote Marine Laboratory’s Sea Turtle Rehabilitation Hospital.
On Sept. 16 Mote released that turtle, named Tucker B., back into the gulf off of Lido Beach after four months of being rehabilitated.
Upon Tucker’s arrival at Mote, medical staff found that the turtle had old, minor wounds on its head and shell and was covered in barnacles and algae. Tucker was also lethargic and wouldn’t eat. The medical staff gave the turtle subcutaneous fluids, injectable antibiotics and calcium supplementation until it started eating on its own. Although his age is unknown, Mote concluded that he is a subadult probably in his '20s.
Mote’s Rehabilitation and medical care coordinator, Lynne Byrd led the turtle’s release on Friday while a crowd gathered to say goodbye to Tucker. Byrd said the medical staff thinks Tucker was exposed to red tide and was originally lethargic, meaning there could have been a parasite in the turtles blood. When Tucker was found, Byrd said it showed hardly any signs of life.
“He’s come a long way,” she said.
Tucker B. got his name from students at Bradenton Christian School after they raised $867 for Mote’s sea turtle hospital. Byrd said Mote takes in anywhere between 40 and 100 sea turtles each year.
To report sea turtle nests, nesting turtles, or hatchlings from Longboat Key to Venice call Mote’s Sea Turtle Conservation and Research Program at 388-4331. To report stranded or dead sea turtles or dolphins within Sarasota and Manatee counties call Mote’s Stranding Investigations Program at 988-0212.