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Date of Issue: November 23, 2006

Mote releases loggerhead in the Gulf

turtle pic

Zach went back to the Gulf on Nov. 17, headed south, toward the sun and into warmer waters.

The adult male loggerhead turtle returned to the Gulf after two months of rest and recuperation at Mote Marine Laboratory’s rehabilitation hospital in Sarasota.

The release of the 250-pound turtle took place on the beach in Anna Maria under the care of Mote scientists, staff and volunteers.

Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch members, members of the the press and about 40 students from Edison Academic Center also turned out for the event. The students were on an ECHO day - a day of learning in the field - and after the turtle’s release they learned about loggerheads, threatened species and the Gulf waters from AMITW director Suzi Fox.

Zach had been found, lethargic and suffering from red tide toxicosis, on the beach at Boca Grande in September.

Zach arrived to the beach in the back of a Ford truck and was carried from the truck across the beach on a pad held by Mote volunteers, staff and interns.

As the turtle slowly crawled toward the water, the crowd gathered cheered and applauded. He tested the water and required an extra lift before swimming away against the waves.

Mote can track Zach because the turtle is tagged with a satellite transmitter. The transmitter is expected to operate for about two years, said Dr. Charles Manire, Mote’s chief veterinarian.

"Males are almost never tracked," Manire said as he looked out across the water, watching the turtle disappear from his sight.

Male loggerheads do not leave the water as females do for nesting.

The Sea Turtle Conservation and Research Program has tracked 13 nesting female loggerhead sea turtles over the past two years via satellite. But not until two weeks ago did Mote have an opportunity to obtain information with satellite tags on adult male loggerheads that recovered from red tide.

Turtle enthusiasts can also track Zach at www.seaturtle.org.

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