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Long-traveling sea turtle found off Keys expected to recover


Published:   |   Updated: May 11, 2013 at 04:16 PM

MARATHON — A tagged juvenile loggerhead sea turtle that traveled some 2,000 miles on ocean currents was expected to make a full recovery after being rescued off the Florida Keys, hospital officials said today.

Officials at the Keys-based Turtle Hospital said the turtle named “Charley” was eating squid and his digestive system was active.

“That's a step back towards the ocean,” said hospital manager Bette Zirkelback. “We'll wait for blood chemistry to come back. He's already not floating and on the bottom of his tank. So the prognosis is very good.”

Charley had been nurtured from a hatchling as part of a sea turtle headstart program between Jorge Tadeo Lozano University in Colombia and Mundo Marino Aquarium in Argentina. He was just over 7 inches long and about two pounds when he was released June 8 off Santa Marta, Colombia.

Hospital officials said Charley likely traveled some 2,000 from his original release point, riding various ocean currents before ending up in the Gulf Stream.

A fisherman found him floating in Sargasso weed on Tuesday about 22 miles off the Middle Keys, with a ball of Gooseneck barnacles trailing from him. Plastic remnants were found in his stool, which hospital officials said was the likely cause for his medical issues.

He has since been recovering at the Turtle Hospital based in Marathon, which has treated and released more than 1,000 sea turtles since its founding in 1986, according to the hospital's website.

Charley is now 10 inches long and weighs almost 6 pounds. He will likely be returned to the Gulf Stream off the Florida Keys by early June.

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