Toughy the turtle is one of the newest patients at Mote Marine Laboratory.
The loggerhead turtle was found struggling to swim approximately a half-mile off Knight Island, south of Stump Pass Inlet in Charlotte County, where it was reported to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission dispatch center by a passing boater. The animal suffered deep lacerations but is expected to survive. The cause of the injuries is unknown.
Upon discovery, the Florida Sea Turtle Stranding and Salvage Network were contacted by FWC and a team of volunteer rescuers from the Coastal Wildlife Club assembled at nearby Stump Pass Marina.
FWC Officer Toby Fogle was able to locate the injured turtle by utilizing its last known latitude and longitude coordinates, which were provided by the passing boater. After marking its updated location, Officer Fogle retrieved the rescue team from the marina.
The team made several attempts to approach the turtle only to have it dive down into the depths and out of reach. However, due to the injuries the animal sustained, it was only able to stay underwater for a short period of time before resurfacing.
Eventually, Toughy was brought to safety aboard a patrol vessel. Once onshore the turtle was transported to the Sarasota-based laboratory and marine research facility where it is currently receiving medical attention. Toughy is one of four loggerhead sea turtles to be admitted to Mote’s Sea Turtle Rehabilitation Hospital in the past month.
Arya was found floating in Bishop’s Harbor in Manatee County and, like Toughy, is a sub-adult who is severely anemic. Moby is an adult female who washed ashore Siesta Beach in Sarasota County. She was described as being lethargic, weak and uncoordinated, but is currently eating well and showing signs of improvement. Patti is the rehabilitation facility’s newest occupant: The turtle was accidentally caught by a fisherman when it swallowed a large hook. While initially refusing all food, Patti recently accepted some herring off feeding tongs for the first time.
According to its website, Mote’s Sea Turtle Rehabilitation Hospital has admitted more than 560 sick and injured sea turtles since 1995 and has treated all five species found in the Gulf of Mexico. Additionally, it is one of only three hospitals in Florida with special facilities and training care for turtles suffering from fibropapilloma tumors.