Sarasota, Florida - Mote Marine staff members recently gathered at Lido Beach to say "bye, bye" to Big Bel as they returned the sea turtle to the wild.
Big Bel, a 214 pound loggerhead, was rescued off of Fort Myers Beach at the end of August after Hurricane Isaac passed through. At that time Big Bel was extremely lethargic.
During the turtle's stay at Mote, vets removed an incredible 22 pounds of epibiota growth (living things like algae and barnacles) from its upper shell. Big Bell also had old wounds and was missing part of a front flipper and most of a rear flipper. But after months of treatment, she was strong enough to return to the Gulf.
Mote's sea turtle hospital has been treating turtles since 1995.