ISLAMORADA (CBSMiami/FKNB) – Love is in the air, and in the sea this Valentine’s Day, as a male and female loggerhead turtle were released together Friday off the Florida Keys.
The event also marked the beginning of a cooperative venture between an acclaimed marine life artist and a Keys-based turtle protection agency.
Officials from Marathon’s Turtle Hospital released “Gizmo” and “Kristi” Friday behind Marker 88 Restaurant.
“I think love is in the air … I feel it,” said Turtle Hospital Manager Bette Zirkelbach, just before the two reptiles swam out of their tubs into Florida Bay behind Marker 88 Restaurant.
“Gizmo,” a sub-adult loggerhead sea turtle, was found floating near Conch Key last October, suffering from emaciation and a head wound. X-rays taken at the Turtle Hospital revealed an intestinal impaction. Gizmo was treated with antibiotics, lactulose, vitamins, honey wound care, and a diet of squid and fish.
“Kristi,” an adult loggerhead sea turtle, was recovered near Tavernier Creek where she was found entangled in a trap line. Kristi received physical therapy on her back flipper and was treated with antibiotics and vitamins, and fed squid and fish.
Artist Wyland, best known for his giant marine life murals, assisted with the releases, launching a partnership between the Keys’ Save-A-Turtle and the environmentally focused Wyland Foundation. As a facet of the relationship, Wyland has created artwork to be featured on Save-A-Turtle merchandise that is to be used for fund-raising endeavors. Save-A-Turtle is a volunteer non-profit organization dedicated to preserving and protecting marine turtles and their habitats.
“It’s not only about the art,” said Wyland. “It’s about the conservation and the message.
“So if we can get people involved through art, then we can inspire them to be curious, maybe learn more and maybe get behind supporting a group like save the turtles (Save-A-Turtle),” he said.
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