GRAYTON BEACH — Carried to the water’s edge in a tub because of his large size and strength, Moray, a green sea turtle weighing 32 pounds, lifted his head slightly out of the water looking at the Gulf, his home, for the first time since being hooked.
Moray was one of the eight sea turtles released back into the Gulf of Mexico Monday after injuries from hooks and other fishing gear landed them under the care of the Gulfarium C.A.R.E (Conserve, Act, Rehabilitate, Educate) Center.
Jovi, a juvenile green sea turtle, was found lethargic at Marler Park with the underside of her shell sunken and fishing hook and line in her intestine. Jovi underwent surgery to remove the fishing gear and had post-surgical treatment including antibiotics, laser therapy and a nutrition plan.
All eight sea turtles had been found with some type of fishing gear-related injury. Along with Moray and Jovi, green sea turtles Orchid II, Sampy, Neon and Goby, as well as an unnamed turtle, made it back into the Gulf successfully.
Oreo, an 84 pound sub-adult loggerhead, also forcefully and quickly made its way back into the water. Oreo was hooked earlier this year at the Navarre Beach Fishing Pier, ingested fishing gear into its esophagus, and underwent surgery.
The success of each release was signaled by a thumbs-up from Gulfarium employees and met with loud cheers and applause from a crowd of over 100 gathered at Grayton Beach State Park.
Terra Throgmorton, a senior aquarist at the Gulfarium, said unfortunately, some turtles that have been released by the Gulfarium will return with another injury.
But Throgmorton said although she hopes they never get hurt again, a silver lining exists: The Gulfarium tracks the sea creatures with a microchip inserted into the turtles’ flipper tag.
“It’s kind of cool to see them and watch them grow,” Throgmorton said.
Releases can be emotional for Throgmorton, who plays an essential role in the rehabilitation of sea turtles.
“It’s exciting because I know they’re going to go out and hopefully be a productive member of their turtle society, reproduce, and go on for generations to come,” Throgmorton said.
This story originally published to nwfdailynews.com, and was shared to other Florida newspapers in the GateHouse Media network.