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MIAMI (CBSMiami/FKNB) – Senator Marco Rubio helped release a rehabilitated sea turtle back to ocean waters off Marathon Friday alongside animal care specialists from the Keys-based Turtle Hospital.

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla.; right, helps lift “Lady Bradley,” a loggerhead sea turtle, on her way to be released off the Florida Keys, Friday, Feb. 8, 2019, in Marathon. (Andy Newman/Florida Keys News Bureau)

The senator helped to send “Lady Bradley,” a 170-pound loggerhead sea turtle, on her way after she had spent months convalescing at the facility. Several hundred spectators cheered “Lady Bradley’s” return to the ocean.

The reptile was found entangled in trap lines off the Upper Keys in November 2018. Treatment at the Turtle Hospital included amputation of one of the sea turtle’s rear flippers, laser therapy, broad-spectrum antibiotics, vitamins and a healthy diet of fish and squid.

“This kind of work they do here, I mean, it’s just a treasure to the community, and they deserve all the credit along with the community that supports them, ” Rubio said. “It’s just exciting to see something like this happen, obviously to see kids have interaction with this.

“And they do such special work — it’s really unique — I’ve never been to one of these before. I know of their work but I’ve never seen it up close,” he said.

The Marathon facility opened over 30 years ago as the world’s first state-licensed veterinary sea turtle hospital, and since then has treated and rehabilitated nearly 2,000 injured sea turtles. Three turtle ambulances aid in transporting the patients.

(©2019 CBS Local Media. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Florida Keys News Bureau contributed to this report.)

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