KEY WEST (CBSMiami/FKNB) — A 200-pound loggerhead sea turtle arrived at the Key West Aquarium Wednesday to get some much needed care with the hopes that it can eventually be released back into the wild.
Hunter, an adult male, was originally admitted to the Florida Keys-based Turtle Hospital in Marathon, in August 2012. After extensive treatment, Hunter was released in December 2013, but was rescued again this past November.
He had lockjaw, was unable to eat and developed pneumonia, according to hospital officials. Treatment included antibiotics, daily jaw-stretching exercises and surgery to remove a fishhook lodged in the reptile’s shoulder. Keys veterinarian Dr. Doug Mader determined that two remaining hooks are in areas too risky for a surgical procedure.
To make room to treat other injured turtles at the Turtle Hospital, Hunter was transferred to the aquarium. He will be monitored and eventually return to the hospital for radiographs to determine if the fishhooks have dissolved.
“He’s probably about 35 years old,” said Bette Zirkelbach, the turtle hospital’s manager. “So, we’re going to give him about two years and we’re going to give him about two years of ‘R&R’ at the Key West Aquarium and the hope is to get him back in the wild where he can make more babies.”
In the meantime, Hunter will serve as an educational attraction to communicate the importance of sea turtle conservation and healthy marine environments.
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