“Harris," an egg-bearing female hawksbill sea turtle, is released Wednesday, Dec. 21, 2022, in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary near Key Largo, Fla. The 171-pound reptile, estimated to be well over 50 years old, was rescued earlier in December with a large fishing lure embedded in its shoulder and was taken to the Florida Keys-based Turtle Hospital for treatment. Prior to its release from the same Horizon Divers boat used for the rescue, the critically endangered hawksbill was fitted with a satellite tracker to gather data, hopefully on where it will likely nest and lay eggs. FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY (Woody Morehead/Florida Keys News Bureau/HO)

A rare hawksbill sea turtle, found injured 10 days ago by divers on a shipwreck off Key Largo, was fitted with a satellite tracking tag and returned to the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary on Dec. 21 after it was treated at the Turtle Hospital in Marathon.

The female turtle, dubbed “Harris,” had a large fishing lure deeply embedded in her shoulder. She received medical treatment and wound care at the hospital and, during examination, was found to be carrying eggs.

“We were able to fit her with a satellite tag, and what that means is that we can track her,” said Turtle Hospital manager Bette Zirkelbach. “She is with eggs, so the exciting thing is we may be able to see where she goes and nests.”

Hawksbill sea turtles are known for having a residence. “Harris” has been seen by divers swimming around the wreck of the U.S. Coast Guard cutter Duane for several years.

Their nesting behavior, however, remains a mystery in the Florida Keys. Only a few hawksbill nests have been found in the Middle Keys around Marathon, but none in Key Largo. Researchers and Turtle Hospital staff hope the satellite tag will help them discover where “Harris” might lay her eggs.

Hawksbill turtles are critically endangered and Zirkelbach reported that “Harris” is unusually large for the species.

“She is 171 pounds,” Zirkelbach said. “In the books they say hawksbills grow to 150 pounds, so she was huge — most likely well over 50 years old.”

The divers who rescued Harris, including the owner of Key Largo-based Horizon Divers, worked alongside the Turtle Hospital team on the release at the Duane wreck, about 6 miles off Key Largo near Molasses Reef.