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Loggerhead turtle vets believed to have been at least 70 years old dies in Marathon

Staff at the Turtle Hospital in the Florida Keys did everything they could to save a loggerhead turtle that was injured during a boater-related incident.

MARATHON, Fla. – A giant loggerhead sea turtle, brought to the Turtle Hospital in Marathon after an apparent boat strike, has died.

The male turtle, believed to be at least 70 years old, was brought in by staff at the hospital along with members of the Coast Guard on Wednesday. Veterinarians at the facility said it was one of the largest turtles they have ever seen.

Bette Zirkelbach, Manager of the Turtle Hospital, said a physical exam and x-rays revealed the seriousness of its injuries.

“It had three large prop wounds on the back of its shell, or its carapace, Zirkelbach said. “The spinal cord, with all those nerve endings, are in the back of that shell made of bone. When that is breached, it is similar if someone broke their back.”

While Zirkelbach believes the boat strike was an accident, she encourages boaters to follow posted markings in the water and to pay attention to their surroundings to reduce their chances of striking marine life.

About the Author:

Janine Stanwood joined Local 10 News in February 2004 as an assignment editor. She is now a general assignment reporter. Before moving to South Florida from her Washington home, Janine was the senior legislative correspondent for a United States senator on Capitol Hill.