Over 200 beach goers met on Juno Beach to watch the triumphant return of endangered green sea turtle “Checkers” to the ocean, after a 110-day rehabilitation at Loggerhead Marinelife Center. The 23.98-pound juvenile turtle was admitted to the center’s Gordon & Patricia Gray Veterinary Hospital on October 8, 2011 after stranding in Jupiter’s Carlin Park. The turtle was the first to be released by the nonprofit organization in 2012.
When Checkers arrived to Loggerhead Marinelife Center, the turtle was weak, anemic, slightly underweight and buoyant. The staff veterinarian also noted an old, completely healed wound on the rear portion of its carapace that may have resulted from a boat propeller injury. Radiographs revealed a large amount of gas in its digestive tract. The rehabilitation team offered Checkers small amounts of food to stimulate its digestive tract. As the turtle became sufficiently hydrated and its digestive health improved, the gas resolved. Checkers also received calcium gluconate, iron, and antibiotics to improve its blood work.
Green sea turtles like Checkers are endangered. In the past decade, green turtle nest numbers have risen greatly along local beaches. In 2011, LMC biologists documented 1,904 green sea turtle nests along 9.8 miles of shore in Juno Beach, Jupiter and Tequesta. The green turtle is named for the greenish color of its body fat. Green turtles can weigh up to 400 pounds.
Last year, the center treated 76 green, hawksbill, Kemp’s ridley and loggerhead sea turtles, as well as 1,568 hatchlings. More than 100 people “adopted” Checkers during the turtle’s 110-day rehabilitation. Continued support of LMC’s life-saving rehabilitation program is appreciated. Maria, Melba, Kahuna, Zoe, and Hatchlings are currently available for adoption. Find out more at marinelife.org/adopt.