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Green sea turtles Benjamin (top photo) and Spicy Hawaiian are set to be returned to the ocean on Friday, March 10, 2023!

Our first sea turtle patient of 2023, Spicy Hawaiian, is set to go home to the ocean along with our 100th green sea turtle patient of 2022, Benjamin, at the Ron Jon Beach ‘N Boards Festival on Friday, March 10 at 4 p.m.

The festival will be held at Shepard Park, located at 299 E. Cocoa Beach Causeway in Cocoa Beach. You are invited to attend this release! If you plan to attend, we suggest getting there early to see Spicy Hawaiian and Benjamin off! The duo will be released around 4 p.m. after the final surf competition heat with all surfers and guests out of the water.

Although these turtles have differing rehabilitation stories, both were found sick or injured and brought to our Sea Turtle Healing Center for care.

A green sea turtle patient

An initial intake photo of Spicy Hawaiian.

Juvenile green sea turtle Spicy Hawaiian arrived at our Healing Center at the beginning of the year after a boater found them floating in the Banana River. They had symptoms of lethargy, stiffness and inappetence, and they were started on fluids and medications.

We don’t know what situation Spicy was put in to cause these symptoms, but what we saw in their bloodwork is typically related to physical overexertion. They were experiencing what we might feel the day after a very strenuous workout, but more extreme. Sea turtles can experience this when trying to escape a predator or struggling to get free from a net.

A green sea turtle swimming

A current photo of Spicy Hawaiian!

It took a long time for this turtle to be less rigid and our Healing Center staff had to monitor their bloodwork closely. The breakdown of muscle enzymes into the body could cause kidney distress, so it was important we kept them hydrated to properly flush their system. Spicy received some vitamin E to help with the enzyme processing.

Despite their ailment, Spicy Hawaiian is fun-loving green turtle! Even when they were super stiff, they enjoyed scratching on their “bug” enrichment. They were often found scratching their plastron on the bug but in quick jerky movements since they could not move well. After a couple months of care at our Healing Center, this turtle was deemed ready for release!

Juvenile green sea turtle Benjamin was brought to the Healing Center toward the end of December 2022. Benjamin’s name reflects their status as the 100th green sea turtle patient in 2022 (just think about who’s on a $100 bill!). Benjamin was caught by a recreational fisherman at Jetty Park. When the fisherman removed the hook from Benjamin’s tongue, a second fishing line was seen coming out of the turtle’s mouth leading into the stomach.

A green sea turtle swimming

Benjamin the green sea turtle!

Our Healing Center team tried to gently remove the fishing line trailing into the stomach, but it was taut. The string was taped to Benjamin’s head so it would not be swallowed before a scoping procedure the next day. When staff arrived the next morning, the line had come out of their mouth on their own. To ensure Benjamin didn’t have any further fishing line complications, our care team kept Benjamin a bit longer for monitoring. We are happy to share that they have since been cleared for release!

While at the Healing Center, Benjamin enjoyed playing on their enrichments! Benny was very curious and liked to see what our staff and volunteers were up to when they were around their pool.

It’s so important to pack your fishing gear before and after use, and place unwanted fishing line in the designated bins at waterfront parks! This piece of fishing gear can be very harmful to marine life, especially turtles. If you accidentally hook a sea turtle call Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission at 1-888-404-FWCC.

Again, you’re welcome to attend this double release! It will happen rain or shine.

Have you found a sea turtle that needs help? Visit this page or call the Sea Turtle Preservation Society at 321-206-0646.

Want to help the Sea Turtle Healing Center? Support our Zoo, or view our Healing Center’s wishlist.