Capt. Hook’s turtle rescue has historic twist
In the 25 years that the Turtle Hospital in Marathon has been rescuing, rehabilitating and releasing sea turtles, they’d never nursed a patient like “Puffer.”
Captain Bonnie Clydesdale and Divemaster Denise Vandenbosch of Capt. Hooks Marina and Dive Center had a boat full of divers ready to explore the shallows at Pillar Patch recently when visitors Emily and Ben Graue spotted a turtle struggling to submerge below the surface.
While Vandenbosch led the charter of eager divers, Clydesdale slapped on a mask and fins to scope out the situation.
“When I got to him, he couldn’t even hold his head up,” she remembered.
Capt. Doug Morgan tossed Clydesdale a PFD while they awaited clearance from the Turtle Hospital to bring him aboard the Jolly Roger.
The crowd of curious divers joined the crew back on the boat when Emily noticed something lodged in the turtle’s throat.
“Bonnie had to reach in there and pop the puffer fish!” Vandenbosch recalled of the impromptu surgery.
The Turtle Hospital met the boat at Tarpon Creek Marina to transport “Puffer” back to their facility where he windpipe could be better assessed. Save a few puncture wounds on the roof of his mouth and a swollen tongue, the turtle was perfectly healthy.
Last week, Clydesdale and Vandenbosch were reunited with their fateful flippered friend when hospital administrator Jo Ellen Basile and Richie Moretti brought him back to Capt. Hook’s for a boatful of beaming on-lookers, including dive center owner Bob Roney and his two children, Jordan and Brendon.
“This is just so cool!” Bob exclaimed. “This is what it’s all about.”