Just in time for mating season, a 230-pound loggerhead turtle is being released from Marathon's Turtle Hospital. According to CBS Miami, the turtle was found entangled in crab trap lines earlier this month.
The massive turtle, who is estimated to be around 50 years old, received antibiotics, wound care, and a generous diet of mixed seafood during his stay at the Turtle Hospital.
Loggerhead turtles are found around the world, but South Florida is one of their most important nesting sites. According to the NOAA, it is one of only two places where groups of more than 10,000 female loggerheads gather to lay their eggs. Loggerhead turtles reach maturity at around 35-years-old and mate every two to three years. Each nest contains around 100 eggs. They can live between 70 and 80 years.
Mating season is starting, so the team at the Turtle Hospital wanted to ensure that he would be ready to head out soon. Getting Sheldon out there means that he can help preserve his species.
Sheldon was released near the newly opened Seven Mile Trail Bridge by Pigeon Key. He has been outfitted with a satellite transponder that researchers will use to track his movements. The transponder will provide valuable information about the movements of male sea turtles. Unlike females, they do not return to the beach where they were born during mating season, so little is known about their habits when away from human eyes.
The Turtle Hospital has been rescuing, rehabilitating, and releasing turtles in the Keys for over 30 years.
Those who wish to follow Sheldon's journeys can check his transponder through WildlifeComputers.