ISLAMORADA, Fla — Two rehabilitated, endangered sea turtles are now swimming freely off the Florida Keys. The U.S. Coast Guard rescued the turtles in June at different locations and times.
Bubbles, a 225-pound female green sea turtle, was found trapped in an abandoned fishing line. Later that month, Coast Guard officers found Emma, a 150-pound female loggerhead floating in the Atlantic Ocean off Islamorada.
Both were taken to the Turtle Hospital in Marathon for care. Bubbles was treated for pneumonia. Emma got excess air removed from her body cavity, along with getting fluids and vitamins.
The endangered sea turtles were released Thursday by some of the same U.S. Coast Guard officers who helped with their initial rescue.
"It's very fulfilling to see the final result of a turtle rescue. In most of our cases involving people, it's kind of an open and shut case," said U.S. Coast Guard First Class Petty Officer Michael Lees. "Rarely do we get to see the actual release of the turtle. And that's very fulfilling. And we're very grateful that we were allowed to do so."
Veterinarians with the Turtle Hospital in Marathon say both species of turtle are endangered. They live in different habitats off the Florida coast, so they were released in different areas.
Green sea turtles, like Bubbles, are taken about 20-miles north of Marathon in the Florida Bay. Loggerheads, like Emma, are taken out much further into the gulf or ocean.
Some of the creatures the Turtle Hospital has helped are now racing in the annual Tour De Turtles to raise money for conservation efforts. This year the Sea Turtle Conservancy is holding separate Tour de Turtles Marathons for the leatherbacks and the non-leatherback (chelonians).
The Leatherback Tour de Turtles started on June 16 (World Sea Turtle Day) and the Chelonian Tour de Turtles started on August 1. It ends October 31. You can track the turtles here.
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