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The story of La Caretta Grande

On Tuesday April 18, 2006, we were having our staff meeting and discussing the upcoming Turtle Day event. We were all wishing that we could keep with the turtle day tradition of releasing a sea turtle back into the wild at the end of the day. Unfortunately, out of the 17 sea turtles we had in rehabilitation at the facility, none were ready to go home yet. Well, be careful what you wish for, you just might get it – in the form of a 270lb female loggerhead sea turtle.

That evening, we picked up an adult female loggerhead from Port Canaveral that had ingested a long line hook. We took her back to the science center, placed her in a tub for the night and set up our plan for removal of the hook the following day. We called in the makers of the ARC dehooking device to come down and help to remove the hook the next morning. This was an extremely large turtle and was going to take all the help we could get.

Wednesday morning we called in the cavalry, the Ponce Inlet Fire Department, to come help handle this large sea turtle. She was weighted, blood was taken and radiographs were performed to determine the location of the hook – right in the center of her throat. It was also noted that she was carrying eggs and needed to returned back to the wild as soon as possible.

The hook was successfully removed and determined to be an illegal 13/0 hook on 700lb. line, a set up normally used for shark fishing. It appeared that the hook was a couple months old and was decaying inside the turtles throat. We administered antibiotics to help with any infection that this hook had caused.
She was placed back into the tub and offered some squid, mackerel and sardines. After a couple of minutes, she started to eat some of the food and continued to eat small amounts throughout the day.
We all couldn’t of hoped for a better and smoother outcome.

Inserting the dehooking device into the sea turtle.

Hook successfully removed and is at the end of the dehook device

13/0 illegal hook inside the throat of a 270lb female loggerhead