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Myrtle the sea turtle returns to the ocean after a month of rehabilitation

Published: Jun. 25, 2020 at 6:46 PM EDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - A special send-off took place at Alligator Point Thursday as Myrtle the sea turtle was released back into the Gulf of Mexico.

Myrtle has spent the last month rehabilitating at Gulf Specimen Marine Lab. She was found injured and caught in a fisherman’s net in May.

"A local fisherman pulls up, and he's got a sea turtle in the back of the truck," said Cypress Rudlow, Executive Director of the marine lab. "He says hey, I caught that and figured we'd bring it to you."

Rudloe and the team at Gulf Specimen Marine Lab found a wound on Myrtle’s neck. They spent every day treating it, giving her antibiotics, keeping her clean and fed and giving her time to heal.

On Thursday, she finally released back into the gulf.

While homecomings for these animals are always celebrated, this one is something special.

"Myrtle is a Kemps Ridley Sea Turtle, which is the rarest and most endangered of all seven species of sea turtles," said Michelle Darpel.

Darpel is the Director of Alligator Point Sea Turtle Patrol. She says there are fewer than seven to nine thousand female Kemps Ridley Sea Turtles in the world.

"It's a magical experience, it really is," Darpel added.

Thursday’s send-off was filled with cheers and waves goodbye as dozens welcomed Myrtle back to her home.

Rudloe says he hopes she can set an example for others why it's important to take care of the environment and marine life.

"Educate people about marine life, to protect them by giving them that experience," Rudloe said. "To see how people are excited and an appreciation for marine life and nature, it kind of makes up for the days that are really hard."

The animal advocates say nesting season for sea turtles extends until the end of August into September. That’s why they say it’s important to remember to “leave no trace,” picking up before you leave the beach, breaking down sandcastles or filling in holes. They also say it helps sea turtles make their way to the ocean if beaches are kept dark at night.

The organizations say, if you see an injured sea turtle or catch one on accident, don’t try to touch it. Instead, call the Gulf Specimen Marine Lab or Alligator Point Sea Turtle Patrol.

Copyright 2020 WCTV. All rights reserved.

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