Mote’s Sea Turtle Rehabilitation Hospital recently received a tiny new patient: a loggerhead turtle weighing just under 5 ounces.

Nicknamed “Stanley,” the turtle was brought to Mote on March 20 by staff from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), who retrieved it from a resident who said he rescued it from a canal in Marco Island.

Stanley’s case is unusual: Based on the size of Stanley’s upper shell – about 3.5 inches long – the turtle probably hatched last year. Loggerhead sea turtles at this stage of life would normally be found far offshore in clumps of seaweed called Sargassum. How Stanley remained behind is unknown.

Stanley the loggerhead sea turtle is held by a caregiver at Mote Marine Laboratory, where the turtle was admitted for rehab on March 20.(Credit Mote Marine Laboratory).

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“We have never had a rescued turtle come into our hospital during this part of its life,” said Lynne Byrd, Mote’s rehabilitation and medical care coordinator. “Even in the most unusual cases, our goal is the same: Taking the best possible care of each individual turtle, for the benefit of these threatened and endangered species.”

All sea turtles are threatened or endangered and are protected by state and federal laws. The loggerhead sea turtle population that nests in Southwest Florida is considered threatened.

Mote’s Sea Turtle Rehabilitation Hospital has rehabbed more than 398 sea turtles since 1995. Learn more about these efforts and support them with a donation at: www.mote.org/seaturtlehospital.

You can also help by attending our April 14 fundraiser Party on the Pass (www.mote.org/partyonthepass). This year’s event will benefit Mote’s hospitals for sea turtles, dolphins and whales while also bidding a fond farewell to the penguins currently “vacationing” at Mote Aquarium. For reservations and sponsorships, contact Stacy Alexander at 941-388-4441, ext. 509, or stacyalexander@mote.org. Reservations required by April 9.
Protecting sea turtles is important year ’round – especially as Southwest Florida prepares for sea turtle nesting season, May 1-Oct. 31. Here are some tips to help clear the way for nesting turtles and their hatchlings:

Do:

  • If you encounter a nesting turtle, remain quiet and observe from a distance
  • Shield or turn off outdoor lights that are visible on the beach from May through October
  • Close drapes after dark and put beach furniture far back from the water
  • Fill in holes that may entrap hatchlings on their way to the water
  • Place trash in its proper place

Do Not:

  • Approach nesting turtles or hatchlings, make noise, or shine lights at turtles
  • Use flashlights or fishing lamps on the beach
  • Encourage a turtle to move while nesting or pick up hatchlings that have emerged and are heading for the water
  • Use fireworks on the beach

Sea turtles are protected under federal law and any harassment or interference with a sea turtle, living or dead, is subject to penalty. If you witness anyone disturbing a turtle or find an injured or disoriented hatchling or adult, please notify agents with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission at 1-888-404-FWCC (3922), the local sheriff’s department, and/or Mote Marine Laboratory’s Sea Turtle Program at 388-4331. If you find a dead or injured sea turtle, contact Mote’s Stranding Investigations Program at 988-0212.

Founded in 1955, Mote Marine Laboratory is an independent, nonprofit 501(c)3 research organization based in Sarasota, Fla., with field stations in eastern Sarasota County, Charlotte Harbor and the Florida Keys. Donations to Mote are tax deductible to the fullest extent allowed by law.

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