150-pound sea turtle released off Florida Keys

Turtle Hospital manager Bette Zirkelbach (front left) and founder Richie Moretti (front right) released “Judy” Saturday.
Larry Benvenuti/The Turtle Hospital via Associated Press
Turtle Hospital manager Bette Zirkelbach (front left) and founder Richie Moretti (front right) released “Judy” Saturday.

MARATHON, Fla. — A female loggerhead sea turtle has been released off the Florida Keys, after convalescing for about three months at the Keys-based Turtle Hospital.

Hundreds of spectators applauded hospital staff Saturday as they released ‘‘Judy,’’ a 150-pound juvenile that was found entangled in a fishing trap line off the Lower Keys in early February.

The reptile was treated with antibiotics, vitamins, and lactulose, and fed squid and fish. Even though her left rear flipper was amputated, as a result of the entanglement, ‘‘Judy’’ is expected to do well.


Turtle Hospital officials said that releasing the reptile over Mother’s Day weekend was especially meaningful because they are confident the turtle will lay eggs after reaching maturity.

Get Ground Game in your inbox:
Daily updates and analysis on national politics from James Pindell.
Thank you for signing up! Sign up for more newsletters here

Sea turtle nesting season opened this month in Florida.

Turtles, along with birds, seals, whales, and other marine life, are at risk from fishing trap ropes.

They also face a threat from the plastic pollution, according to a new study from Florida State University researchers.

The study found that seed-sized microplastics in sand may be heating up beaches and changing the balance of male and female sea turtles.


The researchers, who sampled sand at loggerhead nesting sites along the Gulf Coast, said they found the beads at every location they tested, with the concentration higher in dunes where turtles nest.

Plastic can absorb and retain more heat and raise sand temperature, which determines turtle sex as eggs incubate.

Plastic pollution across the planet has increasingly threatened wildlife, and microplastics pose a particular threat to marine animals.