A crowd of five hundred gathered last weekend to watch the release of a loggerhead turtle named Poppy back into the wild. According to the Loggerhead Marinelife Center in Juno Beach,
“Poppy was found floating near Hutchinson Island last October covered in barnacles and leeches. Initial bloodwork showed anemia, hypoglycemia and overall poor health due to starvation”.
Poppy spent almost six months at the turtle rehabilitation center, receiving much-needed treatments.
IUCN’s Red List classifies the loggerhead sea turtle as a species vulnerable to extinction. National Geographic attributes this consistent population decline to “pollution, shrimp trawling, and development in their nesting areas”. Sea turtles are especially vulnerable to ocean pollution, as they often mistake floating plastic bags for jellyfish. Aside from releasing toxic compounds, ingested plastics can cause “intestinal blockage, reduced nutrient absorption and malnutrition, suffocation, ulcerations, or starvation”.
Loggerheads are the world’s largest hard-shelled sea turtle, weighing over 250 pounds and measuring almost six feet long. Some loggerheads have been recorded to weigh over 1000 pounds. Sea turtle nesting season officially began in Palm Beach County on March 1st. Last year, over 16,000 nests were recorded on the 9.5 mile stretch of beach that is monitored by the Center— accounting for an estimated 5% of the world’s loggerhead sea turtle nests. Human use of artificial lighting causes tens of thousands of hatchling deaths every year. The Center website advises, “flash photography at night during nesting season is in violation of the law as the light may deter nesting”.
“Modern sea turtles evolved around 110 million years ago, and are some of the most fascinating creatures,” said Jack E. Lighton, president of LMC, “Sea turtles tell us the health of our ocean; the ocean tells us the health of our planet. We are honored to advocate for sea turtles and the ocean and beaches they call home. We invite our community to join in our efforts.”
Help the Loggerhead Marinelife Center by “adopting” a turtle today!
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