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Mote to release sea turtle after 18 months in rehab

A sea turtle rehabilitated for boat-strike injuries for 18 months at Mote Marine will return to the sea this morning cheered on by the charter boat captain who rescued it.

The young loggerhead sea turtle will be released at 10 a.m. near the northernmost lifeguard tower at Lido Beach.

The turtle is nicknamed “Catch” because it was rescued by Capt. Greg Clausen aboard the “Big Catch,” a charter boat in the Sarasota-based Flying Fish Fleet.

Clausen, the fleet’s owner, found Catch on Aug. 30, 2009, in waters off Sarasota. The turtle could not dive and its shell was coated with barnacles. Clausen and his crew retrieved the turtle and brought it to Mote Marine Laboratory’s Sea Turtle Rehabilitation Hospital.

As Mote staff cleaned Catch’s upper shell, or carapace, they found two deep wounds most likely caused by a boat propeller. These wounds came close to damaging the turtle’s lungs and spine.

Mote staff carefully cleaned and treated Catch’s wounds and almost immediately Catch began eating — a great sign.

During its stay at Mote, Catch received multiple health exams and blood tests, which showed the turtle was recovering nicely over time.

Catch’s shell healed well but it took time for the shell to harden enough so the turtle could be returned to the wild.

If you see a stranded or dead sea turtle, dolphin or whale within Sarasota or Manatee county waters, call Mote's Stranding Investigations Program at (941) 988-0212.

If you see a stranded or dead manatee anywhere in state waters or a stranded or dead dolphin, whale or sea turtle outside of Sarasota or Manatee counties, please call the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission's Wildlife Alert hotline at 888-404-FWCC (3922).

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