GARDEN KEY, Fla. (AP) — A rehabilitated green sea turtle has been released into the Gulf of Mexico near Dry Tortugas National Park on the 500th anniversary of explorer Juan Ponce de Leon's discovery and naming of the region.
Officials from the Florida Keys-based Turtle Hospital released the turtle Friday, after treating it for fibropapilloma tumors that left it stranded and dying.
Ponce de Leon named the seven islands 68 miles west of Key West "Las Tortugas" for the sea turtles he and his crew slaughtered there for food. Those reptiles are now federally protected.
The release helped highlight 500th anniversary events staged by the National Park Service, Florida Public Archaeology Network and Yankee Freedom Dry Tortugas Ferry.
Other elements included historical presentations and a costumed re-enactor portraying de Leon posing for photos.