KEY WEST, Fla. (AP) — A green sea turtle named after Hurricane Ian was among 15 injured sea turtles released into Gulf Stream waters off Key West by staff at a turtle hospital and members of a powerboat racing team vying for the sport’s World Championship.
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“Ian” was found buried in seaweed by a family cleaning a boat launch after tropical storm-force winds from the storm swept through Key West on September 29. The little turtle was taken to the Marathon Turtle Hospital, where she was treated with fluids and diet and brought back to health.
Hospital director Bette Zirkelbach said ‘Ian’ and 14 other young sea turtles were released Saturday into a sargassum row about 20 miles (32 kilometers) off Key West in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. Sargassum serves as camouflage for young turtles, making it an ideal habitat for their life stage.
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The turtles were transported to the release point by the TS Motorsports MTI motorboat, a 39-foot (12-meter) vessel competing in the Key West Race World Offshore Championship.
The first veterinary facility of its kind in the world, Turtle Hospital has been rescuing, rehabilitating and returning turtles to the wild for over 30 years.
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