Tucker B made it to the finish line at Lido Key, although he seemed a little tuckered out.
Boca Grande resident Warren Watters was the first to see the imperiled turtle stranded on a beach in May. The loggerhead sea turtle was very lethargic and seemed to be near death from what was later found to be red tide exposure and the parasite-caused lethargic loggerhead syndrome.
Tucker B, who was given his name by Bradenton Christian students who raised $876 for Mote’s Sea Turtle Rehabilitation Hospital, was given fluids, antibiotics and calcium so he could eat on his own and gain weight.
Four months later, he was ready to get back in the Gulf.
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“He’s been a very laid-back, wonderful patient for the last few months,” said Lynne Byrd, Mote’s rehabilitation and medical care coordinator, who has been with the turtle hospital for 16 years.
While it took him a bit to actually make it in the water, looking as though he wanted to turn back, Tucker B was carried to knee-deep water by Mote staff and then bolted toward open waters.
“It was very exciting,” Watters said. “Makes me feel really good that he’s going to do so well.”
This was Watters’ first stranded turtle he’s notified authorities about, and he said hopefully it’s the last.
“If I have to be there, obviously, it’s good to be there at the right place at the right time,” he said.
Byrd said Tucker’s release was amusing.
“When we release them, (they) usually take off like a shot, don’t even turn around to say, ‘thank you,’ and Tucker hung around for a while,” she said. “It suits him to a T.”