Florida green sea turtle released into sea after flipper amputation

Staff Writer
Walton Sun
Walton Sun

With clear skies, cool weather, easy surf and an empty beach, Tuesday offered the perfect conditions for a sea turtle release.

It was the big day for Endor the green turtle: After several months of rehabilitation at the Florida Aquarium in Tampa, he finally got to go home to the east coast. Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation approved his release in Wilbur-by-the-Sea, where he slipped into the cool sea water without much of a trace.

Endor, named after the fictional forest moon in Star Wars where the Ewoks live, arrived to the Florida Aquarium on April 1 with six other turtles after enduring cold-stunning. Similar to hypothermia, cold-stunning is when cold water and temperatures cause turtles to suffer from low blood circulation, pneumonia, decreased heart rate, immobilization and exhaustion. sea-tur

Usually, water temperatures must dip below 50 degrees for cold stunning to take effect, but it’s also possible when higher water temperatures combine with lower air temperatures.

Related: Florida sea turtle rescued, rehabilitated, and returned home

Katie Hartwig, a sea turtle biologist with the Florida Aquarium who worked with Endor directly, said when he first arrived, it was clear that his front left flipper was infected. After trying to treat it with antibiotics unsuccessfully, they decided to amputate it.

“The amputation was the best bet for him,” Hartwig said. “He can swim just fine.”

Sea turtles can survive with three flippers, and after his rehabilitation — thanks to proper diet, medication and exercise — Endor grew from 3.24 pounds to 13.67 pounds.

Read more: Watch baby sea turtles hatch at Florida state park (Video)

Meghan Fellner, the digital communications manager for the Florida Aquarium, said she was excited to see Endor’s progress and was pleased with how smoothly the release went.

“It was stressful for a while, but it’s so nice to see him do so well,” she said. “Turtles can survive in the wild with three flippers easily.”

On the off-chance that Endor is injured or washes up on shore again, aquarium biologists tagged him so other science centers or aquariums can access his medical history and other related information.

In the meantime, he’s back where he belongs and is free to explore the Atlantic.

“He’s a happy little turtle,” Hartwig said. “We’re gonna miss him.”

This story originally published to news-journalonline.com, and was shared to other Florida newspapers in the new Gannett Media network.