The Florida Aquarium’s Animal Response Team successfully released two green sea turtles back into the Atlantic Ocean at Matanzas Inlet.

“It’s always a great day when you get to see turtles go back into the wild after being rehabilitated. Izar holds a special place in my heart after all the treatment that he was given and with the amputation of his front right flipper,” said Dr. Lindsey Waxman, The Florida Aquarium’s Associate Veterinarian. “I am confident that Izar will do well in the wild with no issue. Marco was the smallest of the turtles when he came in, so it’s exciting to see this turtle rehabbed and ready to go back to the natural environment.” 

The two sea turtles, Izar and Marco, arrived at The Florida Aquarium’s Sea Turtle Rehabilitation Center in Apollo Beach on April 1, 2019, from Volusia County. The duo was found suffering from cold-stunning, which is when sea turtles are exposed to cold ocean water and air temperatures for an extended period, rendering them immobile since they are cold-blooded.

Cold-stunned turtles are unable to swim and can develop symptoms, including decreased heart rate, low blood circulation, and pneumonia. If they do not receive treatment, cold-stunned sea turtles can be susceptible to drowning, infections, predation, or boat strikes.

Upon intake, one of the sea turtles Izar had a puncture wound on its front right flipper, the injury has unknown origins. The turtle received a blood transfusion from one of the Aquarium’s other long-term patients Banner and its condition quickly improved. In the weeks following its care, Izar also received a CT Scan at Tampa General Hospital to get a better look at the injured flipper. Over time, The Florida Aquarium’s veterinary staff administered antibiotics in hopes of saving the flipper, but it was found that the injury was not healing correctly, and the flipper needed to be amputated. Izar has since completely recovered from surgery and can survive with no issue in the wild. 

After a short period in rehab at The Florida Aquarium’s Sea Turtle Rehabilitation Center in Apollo Beach, Izar and Marco were cleared for release back into the wild by Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) and the veterinary staff at the Aquarium.

Since opening earlier this year, The Florida Aquarium’s Sea Turtle Rehabilitation Center has taken in 14 sea turtle patients for care. Currently, the Center houses three species of turtle including loggerhead, green and Kemp’s ridley. Since opening in 1995, The Florida Aquarium has rescued hundreds of ill and injured sea turtles. Guest admission and memberships help support these rescue efforts along with generous donations.

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