The Turtle Hospital. Rescue, Rehab, Release.


Around noon on October 13, we received a call from Captain Brian Stoner and Captain Rich Schaf of the Keys Cowboy Fishing Charter about a turtle missing a flipper. “He’s unable to dive and doesn’t look too good”, said Rich. We asked them to bring the turtle on board and meet us at the nearest dock. On board was a 2.5ft long, 78lb loggerhead sea turtle covered in barnacles and missing his front left flipper. They named him Cowboy and wished him luck as we loaded him into the ambulance.

Not only was Cowboy’s shell, flippers, and beak covered in barnacles, but he was also growing them inside his mouth! This is a sign of extreme immobility. Cowboy was probably floating for some time before being rescued. His missing flipper wound seems old with a minor sore spot on the outer edge.


He is doing well in one of our hospital tanks and has been seen under the water swimming around just fine. He has a healthy appetite which will aid his strength in his recovery. We continue to monitor him daily and don’t anticipate he will need too much time here at the hospital.

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