If you have had the chance to visit the Hospital recently, you will surely remember Joey, the adorable little green sea turtle who, despite a stout heart and indomitable spirit, could not help but swim in circles. Well, good news! Joey has improved to a point where he no longer swims in circles and has been cleared for release!!
Joey was found three years ago in the bottom of his nest by members of Save-A-Turtle, an organization that patrols nesting beaches and conducts surveys of nests after the hatchlings emerge. Occasionally, they will find young hatchlings in the bottom of the nest as they are counting hatched eggs. If these hatchlings appear weak or lethargic, they will bring them to the Turtle Hospital so that they can have a few extra days to build some strength. Joey was brought to the Hospital in this way. Normally, these little turtles are able to make it home after a few days; however Joey has had to stay much longer than most. It was determined that Joey has a birth defect near the left shoulder which causes his left side to be weaker and less coordinated than the right. The result was that he could not help but to swim in circles. However, Joey has shown constant improvement over the last few months and appears quite mobile and confident. He is able to swim left, right, straight, up and down, and is able to get from point-A to point-B with ease!
On May 14th 2009, Joey was released at a spot about 10 miles directly north of the facility in the Florida Bay. As soon as little Joey spotted the ocean, he started flipping and squirming, and when he hit the water, he never looked back. Joey has surely captured our hearts and he has truly been a favorite of staff and visitors alike. We wish the little guy well and we hope he lives a long and productive life as he roams the boundless expanse of crystal clear water and endless miles of sea grass beds he will call home. So, if you’re down here in the Keys and out on the water, keep your eye out for the little turtle scooting through the water with all the enthusiasm and elation of a creature living a life renewed!
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