Showing up to Loggerhead Marinelife Center (LMC) on Thursday morning, I didn’t know what to expect. I was born and raised in Jupiter, Florida, and visited LMC countless times over the years, but I had never seen a sea turtle release before. Amanda was brought to LMC on December 28, 2014, after a group of divers rescued her about a mile offshore from the Lake Worth Inlet. Amanda sustained unknown mechanical trauma to both of her front flippers, but after plenty of antibiotics and nearly six months of close care, LMC staff confirmed that Amanda was finally ready to return to her home in the ocean.
As I eagerly arrived yesterday morning, I had many questions running through my mind.
How were they going to successfully release Amanda, the 300-pound loggerhead sea turtle, back into the ocean? 300 pounds is a whole lot of sea turtle.
Or, what if after spending so much time in rehabilitation, she forgot how to be a sea turtle? Silly, I know, but still…
Of course, all went well.
At 10:30 a.m., LMC staff and volunteers began prepping Amanda for her release. Her tank was drained, tags were checked, and she was scrubbed down and measured one last time. While hundreds of people were there for Amanda’s big day, half of them were gathered around her tank while the others were already at the beach awaiting her arrival. When it was time for her to be hoisted onto the gurney, five (very muscular) LMC staff members and volunteers carefully lifted her out of the tank. Once Amanda was on the gurney, she was quickly transported to the trailer where the staff lifted her up, yet again. As soon as Amanda was locked and loaded (and safely secured), it was onward to the beach!
Since I am not part of the LMC sea turtle rehabilitation team or a 300-pound sea turtle, I was not able to catch a ride on the turtle trailer. Instead, my trek to the beach consisted of a quick sprint through a mob of anxious and excited onlookers. Luckily, I made it in one piece and just in time. Not only was I in the perfect place for some awesome pictures, I was also in the perfect place to watch Amanda be set free.
In the end, Amanda made it to the water in record time and in one piece. Though she is somewhere far away by now, her GPS satellite tracker will allow LMC staff and the general public to track her whereabouts as she travels the world. That being said, thanks to Amanda and the LMC staff and volunteers, this release is one experience I will never forget.
Written by Michela Vaccaro, Summer Marketing Intern.