KEY WEST, Fla. (WFLA) — A sea turtle was released back into the ocean Friday in the Florida Keys after recovering from injuries caused by a diver’s spear.
“Splinter” was cheered on by spectators, staff and volunteers from the Turtle Hospital in Marathon as she was released at Higgs Beach in Key West.
The 150 pound turtle was found on Carysfort Reef off Key Largo in September with a spear protruding from its neck. Hospital staff believed Splinter had been suffering for more than a month when she was found.
Veterinarians determined the three-foot-long spear actually spanned more than half of the turtle’s body. Emergency surgery had to be performed to remove it.
“Splinter’s release is an incredible opportunity to educate the general public that sea turtles are off-limits in the United States,” said Turtle Hospital manager Bette Zirkelbach. “They’re protected by both federal and state laws, and you can’t touch a sea turtle unless you’re on a permit to help them.”
Turtle Hospital director Richie Moretti and several Florida Keys businesses have come together to pledge a $25,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of whoever injured Splinter.