Back on her flippers: Loggerhead ‘Tina’ returns to the ocean after recovery at Turtle Hospital – WSVN 7News | Miami News, Weather, Sports | Fort Lauderdale

KEY WEST, FLA. (WSVN) – Tina, an adventurous 200-pound adult loggerhead sea turtle, is swimming free once again following a months-long recovery from a tangled mess.

The heartwarming release occurred at Higgs Beach in Key West, Friday.

Tina’s story began when boaters Tina and Randy Summerlin spotted her in a bit of a pickle off Big Pine Key back in July tangled up in a trap line.

Thanks to the boaters’ quick thinking, Tina got a one-way ticket to the Turtle Hospital in Marathon.

At the Turtle Hospital, Tina, who’s believed to be around 40 years old, got the VIP treatment. The team took care of her neck wound from the trap line and gave her some antibiotics, vitamins, fluids and a buffet of seafood.

On Friday, the Turtle Hospital, led by the hospital’s founder Richie Moretti and manager Bette Zirkelbach, rolled up to Higgs Beach. Everyone pitched in, including the Summerlins, to make sure Tina had a grand send-off.

“All species of sea turtles in the United States are listed on the Endangered Species Act,” said Zirkelbach. “Tina was a reproductive female, so it’s most important to get these gals back out to sea doing what they do best — and that’s making more baby sea turtles.” 

When Tina caught a whiff of the salty ocean breeze, she made a grand entrance, pausing for a moment to take in the scene before gracefully slipping back into the sea.

“We have over 50 turtles at The Turtle Hospital, so to take a reproductive female and return her to the ocean — it doesn’t get any better than that,”  Zirkelbach said.

The Turtle Hospital in the Florida Keys has been doing this for over 36 years, and they’ve helped over 2,000 injured sea turtles like Tina get back on their flippers.

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