MARATHON, Fla. (AP) — A rehabilitated green sea turtle was released into the ocean in the Florida Keys on Friday to mark Earth Day.

Several hundred onlookers watched on Marathon’s Sombrero Beach as Keys-based Turtle Hospital staff released ‘TJ Sharp’, a 65-pound (30-kilogram) juvenile sea turtle who was rescued in February. The endangered reptile had been discovered floating offshore, unable to dive and visibly suffering from fibropapillomatosis, a disease that causes cauliflower-like tumors and affects sea turtles around the world.

TJ’s condition upon arrival at Turtle Hospital required the tumors to be surgically removed and treatment with broad-spectrum antibiotics, fluids, vitamins and a nutritious diet of mixed greens and seafood. .

“Sea turtles are the oldest animal known to man – to be able to take a sea turtle, rehabilitate it and bring it back to your ocean on Earth Day is just an amazing day,” said Bette Zirkelbach. , director of Turtle Hospital.


Zirkelbach said that although Earth Day is recognized once a year, there are daily actions humans can take to protect marine resources and help ensure the survival of sea turtles.

“What people need to do to make every day Earth Day is reduce single-use plastics, keep litter out of our oceans, and help keep our planet clean,” Zirkelbach added.

Prime visitors and residents are commemorating the significance of Earth Day with outdoor activities throughout the weekend, including the Mote Marine Laboratory’s 10th Annual Ocean Festival: A Community Celebration Saturday in Key West.