MARATHON (CBSMiami/FKNB) – In honor of Earth Day’s 50th anniversary, staff from the Florida Keys-based Turtle Hospital released a rehabilitated green sea turtle back to the ocean Wednesday in waters off Marathon.

The small group cheered the successful release of “Aldo Leopold,” a 100-pound juvenile green sea turtle that was rescued in late February after being discovered floating offshore, unable to dive.

The endangered reptile was treated at the Turtle Hospital with broad-spectrum antibiotics, fluids, vitamins and a nourishing diet of fish, squid and greens.

Rescuers named “Aldo Leopold” after a renowned environmentalist of the early 1900s, sometimes referred to as the “father of wildlife ecology” and the United States’ wilderness system.

“The coronavirus, as everywhere in the world, has the Florida Keys shut down, but we’re still here protecting paradise and taking care of over 40 sea turtles at the Turtle Hospital,” said Bette Zirkelbach, the facility’s general manager. “While everyone is staying safe at home, we’re able to share an exciting day like this, celebrating 50 years of Earth Day with a sea turtle release.”

While the Keys remain closed to visitors, many nature and wildlife rehabilitation centers throughout the island chain are streaming live social media videos with educational opportunities for viewers at home during the COVID-19 crisis.

The Turtle Hospital is the world’s first veterinary hospital dedicated to the rehabilitation of endangered sea turtles. The facility has been rescuing, rehabilitating and returning turtles to the wild for more than 35 years.

Spring also marks the beginning of sea turtle nesting season, which traditionally runs from March through the end of October.

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