22 April 2023

Story: Sea Turtles’ Release Helps Mark Earth Day in the Florida Keys

Locator Super: Islamorada, Florida Keys
 Video to match this story is available on the Florida Keys News Bureau's FTP server (download details below) or can be downloaded via Google Drive link here. B-roll of turtle release, including underwater GoPro as well as spectators; SOTs with Bette Zirkelbach (pronounced Betty ZIR kull back), Turtle Hospital manager. 

TRT: 02:00
Video and Photos source:
 Florida Keys News Bureau


ISLAMORADA, Florida Keys -- Two rehabilitated green sea turtles were released back to their ocean home off the Florida Keys Saturday to mark Earth Day in the subtropical island chain.


The two juvenile reptiles, named "Larry” and “Moe,” were rescued last year off the Lower Keys and diagnosed with fibropapillomatosis, a debilitating tumor-causing disease that affects sea turtles around the world.


Treatment at the Florida Keys-based Turtle Hospital included surgeries to remove the cauliflower-like tumors, broad-spectrum antibiotics, fluids, vitamins and a diet of greens and mixed seafood. 


"There’s no better way to celebrate Earth Day in the Florida Keys than releasing two iconic sea turtles that were rehabilitated at the Turtle Hospital since November," said Bette Zirkelbach, the Turtle Hospital's manager. “Sea turtles are a symbol for our marine ecosystem.


“Helping to save sea turtles makes people aware to protect our oceans and there’s no better time to think of it (than) on Earth Day,” Zirkelbach added. “It’s great to celebrate Earth Day, but every day needs to be Earth Day.”


Before releases from the beach at Islamorada’s Islander Resort, kids and their parents had a chance to see the turtles up close and learn from Zirkelbach about the need to protect the world’s oceans.


The Turtle Hospital, based in Marathon in the Middle Keys, is the world's first state-licensed veterinary hospital solely dedicated to the rehabilitation of endangered sea turtles. The facility has been rescuing, rehabilitating and returning turtles to the wild for 37 years.



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