by: Observer staff
An endangered Kemp’s ridley sea turtle was brought to Mote Marine Laboratory’s Sea Turtle Hospital after it swallowed a balloon.
The 3.3-pound young turtle washed up on a sandbar Tuesday, July 14, near the south end of Lido Key. Swimmers who found the turtle called Mote biologists, who brought the turtle in for treatment.
“Balloons can look like jellyfish or squid — things sea turtles like to eat,” said senior Biologist Kristen Mazzarella, of Mote’s Sea Turtle Conservation and Research Program. “It’s extremely common to find sea turtles that have swallowed balloons, fishing hooks, monofilament lines and other dangerous objects.”
Mote’s patient, nicknamed Anakin, is receiving fluids, antibiotics and food at the sea-turtle hospital. The turtle, which arrived anemic and dehydrated, is being closely monitored for additional health problems.
“We pick up a lot of balloons wrapped in seaweed from local beaches,” said Mazzarella of Mote’s Sea Turtle Patrol — a team of staff, interns and volunteers who monitor sea-turtle nesting every day on 35 miles of Sarasota County beaches during nesting season, May through October. “To protect sea turtles and other wildlife, we recommend that people dispose of trash in the appropriate containers and recycle it when possible. If you see trash washing up on the beach, pick it up before the tide takes it back out to sea.”
To reported a stranded or dead sea turtle, call Mote’s Stranding Investigations Program, a 24-hour response service, at 941-988-0212.