The Turtle Hospital. Rescue, Rehab, Release.

Recent Releases


Release or “Relief” for Archer and Francis!!!!  4/19/14 & 4/26/14

Two of our big loggerheads got some relief after a few months stay from suffering from stomach and intestinal impactions.  Archer, a 120 lb loggerhead came to us the end of January when he was found floating at the surface down near Key West.  After lactulose and some treatments of Beano, Archer’s gas subsided and he became a healthy and feisty loggerhead.  Saturday, April 19th was his big day down on Higgs Beach as he was wished well in front of a very large crowd.  With a similar story Francis, a 150 lb loggerhead, was also found floating up in Marathon by Captain Hooks Dive Center on January 31st.  Along with Archer, Francis also had a bad impaction of sponge and sand and was treated with those lactulose and Beano supplements.  April 26th was a big day for this big girl as she was released off Sombrero Beach here in Marathon just in time for nesting season!!!





Release for Timmy, Mae, Corona, and Stanley! 3/9/14

Our second release event of 2014 was a big one! On March 9, 2014 four juvenile Greens were released from a boat just outside the Everglades National Park! Timmy and Mae were both treated for Fibropapilloma, a rehabilitation process that took just over a year! Corona needed some help to be able to pass pieces of plastic that were blocking her digestive tract. Lastly was Stanley who was only with us for a few weeks. He was attacked by a predator and was treated with antibiotics and a healthy diet.



Kristi and Gizmo Released on 2/14/14!

It was a very special Valentine’s Day as we were able to release two Loggerhead sea turtles! Gizmo, a sub-adult loggerhead sea turtle was found floating behind a resident’s home off of Conch Key on October 20, 2013. Gizmo was emaciated and had a wound on the top of his skull. Kristi, an adult loggerhead sea turtle was rescued just North of Tavernier Creek where she was found entangled in a trap line in early February. They were sent off in style with renowned artist Wyland and Save-a-Turtle!



2013 Releases (28):

A Yearlong Stay for ‘Hunter’ Proves Helpful, Released 12/14/13

After coming in extremely underweight at 170 lbs along with injesting fishing hooks and suffering from lockjaw, Hunter fought a tough battle and proved to be one of the strongest loggerheads we have seen here at the hospital.  Physical therapy was done multiple times a day for the first few months Hunter was here in order to get his big jaw muscles functioning again.  He finally began eating food on his own but then starting suffering with liver issues enduring multiple blood tests, pathology exams, and endoscopes.  Finally he showed improvement after several months and became the healthy, resilient loggerhead he was met to be.  In front of a large crowd at Higg’s Beach in Key West, Hunter made a successful debut back to the wild.


Wrong Way Jose is Put Back on Track! Released 12/10/13

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAStrong winds pushed a small post-hatchling Loggerhead off course and into a boat marina in mid November. He was fed, re-hydrated, and re-located to the Gulf Stream in under a month!


Hooked Green, ‘Monty’, Released 10/16/13


Accidentally hooked by a fisherman, Monty was brought in and had his swallowed hook removed. He was treated with antibiotics and re-released!




Boat Hit Survivor ‘Xiomy’ Released on 10/14/13

Xiomy was rescued at the end of July of 2013. She had a severe prop wound and was struggling to breathe in a resident’s backyard canal. After just over two months of antibiotics, a healthy diet, and wound care using honey, Xiomy was ready to go back out!




Cupid Gets a Second Chance! Released 9/28/13


It took a lot of love and patience for Cupid, a 150 pound loggerhead turtle, to make a full recovery. She was found off of Marathon on Valentine’s Day, February 14, 2013 floating and swimming in circles against the rocky shore. The turtle had a crack in the shell and a fracture to the head from a boat. Cupid was given plenty of time to recover, and spent her first couple of months in shallow water fitted with a float harness to allow time for her fractures to heal. Cupid was treated with a broad spectrum antibiotic, vitamins and a healthy diet of squid and fish.



Wayward Howard Finds His Way, Released 9/13/13!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA‘Howard’ was found a little off track in John Pennekamp State Park. Post-hatchling Loggerheads like him should be out in the Gulf Stream. Howard was rehydrated and given a few good meals before being relocated back to the right spot!


Schroder Goes Home! 9/12/13

Schroder arrived on June 22, 2013 after being found by FWC during a research project. He was badly entangled in fishing line. The line had cut down almost to the bone and the flipper was extremely swollen. Physical therapy slowly got Schroder to use his flipper on a regular basis and the swelling went down significantly. Once we knew he could use it and it wouldn’t become infected, it was time for him to get the most exercise possible—back out in the ocean! Good luck Schroder!

Intake:                                                                Pre-release:





Triple Release! Trey, Dusty, & Mikey Released Offshore on 9/6/13 by Hospital Staff

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAll three turtles were with us for almost exactly one month, Trey due to a fish hook in his esophagus; Dusty due to an intestinal blockage of sponge; and Mikey due to a severe flipper wound and intestinal blockage of plastic. A little TLC at The Turtle Hospital and now they’re back out doing their thing!




Staff Says Adios to Taco! Released August 23, 2013

Rescued on Cinco de Mayo by US Coast Guard, Coast Guard Auxillary, and Florida Fish and Wildlife. Initially spotted and called in by Kimberly, a resident of Islamorada. Treated for intestinal infection and released from the beach of Cheeca Lodge.






“Creeper” Makes his Return to sea! 8/11/2013

Creeper was transferred from the Volusia Science Center back at the end of April after the Northeast part of Florida experienced a rather harsh winter.  Water temperatures had dropped into the 60’s and because our sea turtle friends are cold blooded they much rather prefer the warmer water temperatures.  Creeper was transferred to us mainly because the Science Center had an influx of turtles and was running out of room to house them.  Creeper arrived with many large barnacles living on his carapace.  After a freshwater bath soon after his arrival all those tiny small barnacles were scraped off Creeper’s shell revealing minimal wounds from their attachment.   After about a month of antibiotics and wound care Creeper began to show improvement and turn back into the spunky juvenile green he was in the wild.  Staff took him offshore on August 9th, 2013 into Florida Bay for his release and he is back out there feasting on those luscious beds of sea grass.


Captain Hook Un-hooked and Released, August 4, 2013!

Captain Hook was cleverly named due to a massive hook that was lodged in his esophagus. He was a feisty 70 lb. Loggerhead that only stayed with us for a month before being released right where he was found. He was found by FWC officials during research in the Florida Bay.



Survivor ‘Chelsea’ Makes an Amazing Comeback! Released July 17, 2013.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWith a packed cell volume of just 1, we weren’t sure if Chelsea would survive her first night in our care. Only 1% of her blood was red blood cells, in turtles it should be 20-35%! It appeared to staff thatshe was on her last leg. She had likely been floating for weeks-her shell matted in algae and a severe wound on her head from where her shell had been rubbing. After just two months of treating with antibiotics and feeding her a healthy diet with vitamins and even Beano, Chelsea’s behavior returned to normal.

She could rest on the bottom of her tank, had healthy blood chemistry, and had put on some good weight. She was released off of a beach inside Bahia Honda State Park.

Check out a cool video summing up her stay with us from rescue to release by clicking here!


Tiny Turtles ‘Kiri’ and ‘Crush’ Released Offshore into the Sargassum! July 11, 2013.

Both of these small patients would normally be living miles offshore in thick beds of Sargassum seaweed but were found washed in to shore.

DCIM100GOPROCrush was a tiny juvenile Hawksbill turtle found in a marina in Islamorada. Crush was packed full of squid bits at the hospital and became re-energized during his month long stay with us.




OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAKiri was found in Robbie’s Marina in Islamorada. We found that she had been eating a lot of plastic out at sea which could have caused her to feel sick, float, and get washed in to shore. A healthy diet and rest was all she needed! She also was here for only 1 month!



Underdogs ‘Reginald’ and ‘Daisy’ are Released June 26, 2013

For many months, it was unsure if these two juvenile greens would ever be able to be safely released to the wild, but they proved us wrong!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA‘Reginald’ was found with fibropapilloma tumors and a severe boat strike to the back of her shell. She went through surgery and had her tumors removed but she was always floating. Many turtles hit by boats permanently float and in the wild they wouldn’t be able to dive for food and would also be vulnerable to boats or predators. After treating for over a year, she was finally able to dive and rest consistently so we knew she would be okay out at sea.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFor ‘Daisy’ nothing seemed to work. Month after month she rested in shallow water floating and motionless. She would just move for food and to breathe. Different types of medication and therapies were tried with no change. Then, she had an MRI at a human hospital where it was determined she had fluid built up on her brain. The fluid was drained and she was placed in an enclosure with other young active turtles her size where her behavior became more normal. Eventually the tiny turtle that couldn’t even swim turned into a fiesty one that would steal food away from bigger turtles!

Daisy and Reginald were released just outside Everglades National Park into huge beds of sea grass – their favorite food!


‘Mallory’ Makes it 1 year Tumor-Free! Released June 21, 2013

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA‘Mallory’ came to us in April 2012 covered in Fibropapilloma tumors, even on her eyes. Mallory had to have her right eye completely removed due to the extensive growth of a tumor. After several surgeries, all the tumors were removed and we kept her for a one year period to make sure none grew back. She was released on a Dry Tortugas Ferry excursion on the anniversary of the islands being discovered by Ponce De Leon.


Before and after:


mallory release water


‘Lucy’ Captured and Re-released, June 18, 2013

Brenda found a lost turtle who was likely looking for a good spot to lay her eggs. ‘Lucy’ likely got confused and ended up literally on Brenda’s front doorstep after climbing 3 steps! ‘Lucy’ was captured, tagged, and released from Sombrero Beach in just a few minutes.

photo(10)Lucy release into water


‘Hilary’ Released June 15, 2013

Hillary and HillaryHilary from John Pennekamp State Park found a turtle floating and lethargic. Treated for just 3 months with antibiotics and beano got ‘Hilary’ the turtle back to her old self! She started to rest on the bottom and attacking the rehabbers! She was released behind the MM 88 restaurant in Islamorada.



‘Senor Fab’ Released!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAA subadult Loggerhead was released after being found floating and non-responsive. He was suffering from an internal infection and was underweight. Three months of antibiotics and bean-o and he was ready to go back!



‘Charley’ Released May 24, 2013

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERACharley a juvenile Loggerhead was found floating and proceeded to defecate several plastic pieces while in our care. He was released into the Gulf Stream by Turtle Hospital founder Richie Moretti. Charley came to us with a flipper tag already; from the tag information we learned that he was raised and released in the country of Columbia in the summer of 2011!


Dual Release! ‘Fisher’ and ‘G-Mo’ on May 23, 2013.

Fisher on release day‘Fisher’ was raised at the hospital for nearly 2 years! She visited schools and events all over the FL keys teaching about sea turtle conservation, she also got a headstart on life with us.



DCIM100GOPRO‘G-Mo’ is a 1 or 2 year old Green sea turtle. She had a hook embedded in her flipper and had fishing line entangled around her neck.


Turtle Hospital Staff releases the turtles offshore of Cape Sable


‘Grace’ Released Off Anne’s Beach on April 6th, 2013

Rescuers, Jack and Grace, observe 'Grace', the turtle.

Rescuers, Jack and Grace, observe ‘Grace’, the turtle.

Grace was rescued in a backyard canal in Tavernier where she was floating and barely responsive. During 3 months of treatment, Grace received a broad spectrum antibiotic and beano hidden inside her squid. Grace started to pass a few plastic fragments and quickly turned back into a feisty Loggerhead.


Photo credit: Andy Newman


Quick Rehab for ‘Sandy’! Released February 9th, 2013

IMG_8604‘Sandy’, a 145lb. subadult Loggerhead, was inadvertently hooked by a fisherman who took the time to call Turtle Hospital staff for advice. A large J hook was lodged deep in the mouth. Dr. Mader was able to remove the hook in the hospital ER and put Sandy on a few doses of antibiotics before releasing him just 4 days later!

Photo credit: Andy Newman


Stella Gets Her Groove Back! Released 1/11/13


Weighing in at just 177lbs. upon rescue in August 2012, Stella was extremely emaciated and also suffering from a lung infection which caused her to float. She was also missing one of her front flippers! Stella was fitted with a floatation harness while she was treated with antibiotics during rehabilitation. She put on thirty pounds and her lung healed so that she was able to rest on the bottom of her tank. The US Coast Guard helped staff release Stella in the Everglades for the Coast Guard Florida television show!