It Takes a Village…a Plane and a Boat

Seven baby loggerhead sea turtles rehabilitated at the Turtle Hospital were strong and ready for release to their ocean home. Richie Moretti, founder and director of the Turtle Hospital ran his boat 35 miles offshore in search of a patch of sargassum weed, a haven to release the sea turtle hatchlings. No sargassum weed was to be found. A week later, there was still no reports from local fishermen of sargassum weed offshore. Richie turned to the team at the Marathon Airport for some help last week. Florida Keys Flight Academy provided an airplane, Marathon General Aviation supplied the fuel and pilot Cristhyan Martinez donated his time to fly Richie offshore of Marathon on October 31st. From the air they closely surveyed the Atlantic ocean offshore of Marathon and spotted a healthy patch of sargassum weed! Upon landing at Marathon Airport, Richie rushed to beat the sundown and took the 7 baby sea turtles out on his boat to release them into the patch of sargassum weed. These were the last babies of the season to be released.

Sea turtles spend the first couple years of their life in sargassum weed in the Gulf Stream current. The Florida Keys get around 100 loggerhead sea turtle nests annually. Nesting season in the Florida Keys is mid-April to mid-October. Sea turtles hatch from their nest and make their way to the ocean guided by the light of the night sky. Sometimes hatchlings become disoriented by artificial light and do not make it to the ocean. When found, these baby sea turtles are brought to the Turtle Hospital for rehabilitation.

The Turtle Hospital is most grateful for the incredible support and generosity of our island community. It takes a village to save sea turtles!

Bette Zirkelbach
The Turtle Hospital
cell 305-923-8562

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