Yankee Freedom II ferries Sea Turtle for release at Ft Jefferson

“Salty” the Hawksbill Sea Turtle Released at Fort Jefferson in the Dry Tortugas National Park

On Sunday, October 28, 2007 Salty, a three-year-old Hawksbill turtle, was released at the Dry Tortugas National Park aboard the Yankee Freedom II. In July a local fisherman, Ed Sanchez, encountered a Hawksbill Sea Turtle with it’s front flippers entangled in a braided fishing line near the Boca Cheeca Bridge. Mr. Sanchez brought the helpless three year old turtle, later named “Salty”, to The Turtle Hospital in Marathon, Florida where it was determined that she sustained multiple injuries to the back of her shell and front flippers.

Salty the Hawksbill Sea Turtle

Salty’s flippers were entangled in fishing line and her right front flipper was severely tangled and swollen. Because blood had been cut off from her flipper, Salty was in danger of having her flipper amputated. However after three months of intense physical therapy, antibiotics, and TLC by the capable staff at The Turtle Hospital, Salty was almost as good as new with just a small scar where the line had cut her. Salty was also fitted with two tags and a microchip.

The Turtle Hospital Ambulance

Preparations for Salty’s release began early Sunday morning when the staff at The Turtle Hospital removed Salty from her aquatic holding pen and placed her into a specially prepared turtle carrier . The Hawksbill Sea Turtle was then put in The Turtle Hospital’s ambulance by Ryan Butts, a Sea Turtle Rehab Specialist, who transported her 1 hour South to Key West and to the waiting crew and passengers aboard the Yankee Freedom II . There she was carefully placed on board The Yankee Freedom II for the 2 hour cruise to Fort Jefferson Dry Tortugas National Park.

Demonstration on Yankee Freedom II

About half way to Fort Jefferson National Park, a remote sub-tropical park located on the southwestern end of the Florida Keys, Ryan brought Salty out in the air conditioned galley and did an educational presentation of her injuries and rehabilitation. The passengers aboard the Yankee Freedom II enjoyed the demonstration and the opportunity to view first hand the positive impact The Turtle Hospital has on these endangered species.

Once the Yankee Freedom II Ferry reached Ft. Jefferson National Park, the park rangers escorted Salty to the beach for his release back to the sea. Immediately after Ryan removed Salty from her protective container the Hawksbill Sea Turtle immediately started flapping her flippers and bobbing her long neck and head back and forth excitedly. While the crowd clapped and cheered “Goodbye” Salty”, Ryan wadded out to his waist to release Salty back to her natural habitat!

Hawksbill Sea TurtleFort Jefferson National ParkReleasing Hawksbill Sea Turtle

Thanks to the great teamwork from the Yankee Freedom II, The Turtle Hospital, and the wonderful rescuers and volunteers, another Hawksbill Sea Turtle has been saved.

Salty the Hawksbill Sea Turtle

About The Turtle Hospital

The Turtle Hospital opened in 1986, is a part of Hidden Harbor Marine Environmental Project, Inc. whose main objectives are to repair injured sea turtles and return them to the wild, educate the public through outreach programs and assist with research which aids the sea turtles. Four species of sea turtle are treated at the Hospital: Loggerhead, Green, Hawksbill, and Kemp’s Ridley. Just like Salty, many of the hospital’s patients are brought in by boaters, divers, or commercial fishermen in the surrounding area. The Turtle Hospital has successfully treated and released over 750 Sea Turtles since its inception.

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