ISLAMORADA (CBSMiami/FKNB) – Taco the loggerhead sea turtle, who was rescued on Cinco de Mayo, returned to the ocean off a posh Florida Keys resort Friday.
Taco was spotted, back in May, floating in an Islamorada channel that links the Atlantic Ocean to Florida Bay.
Keys residents and visitors, about a 150 people, gathered at the Cheeca Lodge in Islamorada to watch Taco, the 75-pound sub-adult male turtle, return to the wild.
The turtle’s rescue was called in by a Keys resident who had previously obtained the knowledge needed to recognize that the animal was in distress during an educational visit to the Turtle Hospital.
Taco’s rescue was facilitated by the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary in Islamorada with assistance from Coast Guard personnel, as well as the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officials.
“Being here today is a really awesome experience,” said Sara Maehr, of U.S. Coast Guard Station Islamorada. “The turtle is able to go out into the wild.”
“If we hadn’t been there to help it, it could have died,” she said.
Taco was treated for an intestinal infection due to digestive impact that had prevented the reptile from diving below the surface. In addition to antibiotics and fluids, Taco was treated with Beano, a human dietary supplement used to reduce digestive tract gas.
The Turtle Hospital has been caring for sea turtles since 1986. The hospital is believed to be the only state-licensed veterinary hospital in America dedicated solely to the treatment of sea turtles.
“We look at each turtle that comes in … that one might make a difference whether your grandchild ever gets to see a turtle,” said Richie Moretti, the hospital’s founder and director.