The best part of any rehab journey is the end, as staff from Marathon’s Turtle Hospital gather with hundreds of onlookers to cheer for ‘Crackle’ and ‘Pop’ as they make their way back to the Florida Keys waters.

It was a picture-perfect morning on March 14 as a crowd of hundreds gathered at Sombrero Beach to watch two juvenile green sea turtles complete their journey home. Rescued in November off Cudjoe Key, both turtles, later named “Crackle” and “Pop,” were suffering from fibropapillomatosis, a common disease that can cause extreme tumor growth on the turtles. Their four-month rehabilitation at Marathon’s Turtle Hospital included tumor removal surgeries, broad spectrum antibiotics, fluids, vitamins and a healthy diet of mixed seafood and greens.

Photos by LARRY BENVENUTI/Contributed

As is the case with every Turtle Hospital release, staff and guests wait for each turtle’s highly-anticipated first breath after leaving the beach.

Alex Rickert
Alex Rickert made the perfectly natural career progression from dolphin trainer to newspaper editor in 2021 after freelancing for Keys Weekly while working full time at Dolphin Research Center. A resident of Marathon since 2015, he fell in love with the Florida Keys community by helping multiple organizations and friends rebuild in the wake of Hurricane Irma. An avid runner, actor, and spearfisherman, he spends as much of his time outside of work on or under the sea having civil disagreements with sharks.