Loggerhead Turtle Rescued in Key West

By Timothy O’Hara Citizen Staff

The Marathon Turtle Hospital received a new patient Friday, after a Key West Wildlife Center worker rescued a sick sea turtle near the seawall by the Key West International Airport.

Don the loggerhead turtle, named after a man who spotted him and called rescuers, was severely emaciated when Key West Wildlife Center Executive Director Tom Sweets and others pulled the turtle from the water and hoisted it over the nearly 10-foot seawall.

KWWC Loggerhead Turtle

KWWC Loggerhead Turtle

The feat was no easy task, as Sweets had to stand on an old shopping cart in the water in several feet of water to clear the seawall and lift the turtle onto the bike path. His efforts were greeted with applause by a small crowd of people that gathered to watch the rescue.

The turtle did not have any wounds on it, but was lethargic and in need of water and food, Sweets said. Turtle hospital workers began treating him upon arrival at the Marathon facility.

“Most likely it has some kind of impaction,” one of the workers said.

Several guests at a nearby hotel commented that they had seen the turtle in the shallows off South Roosevelt Boulevard for the past several days, but did not know if it was sick or injured.

“I saw his little head bobbing up and down out there two days ago, but I didn’t know anything was wrong,” said Barbara Messina, who was visiting from New York.

“I hope he is going to be O.K.,” added winter time resident Mary Lou Vellone, who was among a group of half dozen well wishers at the seawall.

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However, the prognosis for the turtle is not good, Zirkelbach said.

The turtle was in very critical condition on Friday, she said.

This is the second loggerhead turtle to strand in the Florida Keys in a week. Kokomo the turtle was rescued Saturday and is now receiving treatment at the Marathon Turtle Hospital. That turtle is doing well and should be released soon, Zirkelbach said.

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