SARASOTA COUNTY - A loggerhead turtle found with a hook lodged in its throat returned home Wednesday morning.

Last summer, it was a full house at Mote Marine Laboratory's Rehab Center after a red tide outbreak spanning 16 months on the Suncoast. Mote sprung into action to rehab several sick sea turtles.

But Lynne Byrd, Mote's Medical Care and Rehab Coordinator, calls this year a quiet one. She said, "Sadly, it is. We are very slow in our numbers for what we have and we think that's due to the red tide last year, it's probably killed anything that was barely hanging on."

The summer brought a comeback story for one juvenile loggerhead turtle. This time, the culprit wasn't red tide. She said, "This animal came in the beginning of May. It was caught on the Venice pier, with a hook in its mouth."

It wasn't the catch those fishermen hoped for. So, they transported the turtle to Mote in an unlikely container. "Brought to us in a dog crate, which is really challenging to get an otherwise healthy turtle out of a dog crate with a hook in its mouth," she said.

Naturally, staff nicknamed the 37kg turtle, "Kennel". Staff monitored Kennel around the clock and helped ease an Iron deficiency. She said, "We also know they have different diseases that cause them to go to these piers and get easy food. We knew we needed to get him on some anti–parasitic medicine. Put some weight on his so maybe he won't go back and do the same thing all over again."

110 days later, Wednesday morning, it was time for Kennel to go home. "Rain or shine, they get to go home. When we get to do a release and bring something healthy back, it's really exciting," she said.

Byrd said if a turtle is caught on your fishing line do not unhook it. I

 

nstead, pull the turtle to the shoreline and contact your nearest rehab center, like Mote or call the FWC.