Green Sea Turtle Rescue

Key West Wildlife Rescue Executive Director Tom Sweets, left, and Marathon Turtle Hospital Rehab Specialist Olivia Carlile transfer a juvenile green sea turtle to the hospital’s iconic ambulance Friday morning on Stock Island. The turtle was plucked from the water of the Lower Keys earlier in the day by concerned boaters that noticed tumors on the reptile’s face, neck and flippers. Throughout the world’s oceans, all sea turtles, with the exception of leatherbacks, are affected by the fibropapillomatosis virus that produces tumors and lesions on the animal’s soft tissue. If left untreated, the growths can obstruct the turtle’s vision, rendering it vulnerable to predators and unable to swim and feed. The turtle will undergo surgery to remove the tumors and will rehabilitate, on average, for roughly one year before being released back into the wild. ‘We usually deal mostly in birds,’ Sweets said, ‘but we’re here for all types of our precious wildlife and thoroughly enjoy partnering with the Marathon Turtle Hospital, as we have a common goal.’