With names like Kahuna and Tilly, you would think they would be hanging out with characters like Moondoggie in a Gidget movie, but that’s where any similarities would end.
Tilly and Kahuna are two loggerhead sea turtles. They are linked to one another because they were both recovered from a canal at Florida Power & Light Company’s St. Lucie Nuclear plant by onsite biologists and then sent to the Loggerhead Marinelife Center (LMC) in Juno Beach, Fla., for rehabilitation and recently released.
Tilly, a teenager in turtle years, was severely anemic, dehydrated, hypoglycemic and suffered from other maladies when admitted to LMC in April 2012. Kahuna, one of LMC’s longest admission-to-recovery residents, appeared to be suffering from every surfer’s worse nightmare when she was admitted about two years ago – a shark attack. Part of her left front flipper was missing and there were several deep lacerations on her right front flipper that required surgery. In addition, she had developed a bone infection. Antibiotics, vitamins and nutritional therapy were recommended for both turtles as part of their respective recovery processes.
“There’s nothing better than witnessing a rehabbed sea turtle as it disappears into the surf,” said Amy Albury, director of sustainability, FPL. “If the sick turtles we find could talk, they would tell you that without the help of FPL and the Loggerhead Marinelife Center, they probably wouldn’t have survived much longer in the open ocean.”
This has been a landmark year in monitoring Florida’s sea turtle population with a record number of sea turtle nests found along Florida beaches in 2012. Even Kahuna is getting in on monitoring efforts as she was fitted with a global positioning satellite tracking device so researchers and turtle lovers can track her whereabouts.
“FPL conducts the necessary assessments and does preliminary evaluations of turtles before they are brought to the Loggerhead Marinelife Center for treatment,” said Dr. Charles A. Manire, director of research and rehabilitation, Loggerhead Marinelife Center. “The company’s comprehensive sea turtle program allows us to share data and develop an important resource to help these magnificent creatures.”
Within days of each other, Tilly and Kahuna made their way back to the ocean in separate “sand carpet” ceremonies befitting a blockbuster movie premiere attended by legions of adoring fans. Tilly was released at a fighting weight of 95 pounds and Kahuna tipped the scales at 209 pounds as they lumbered into the choppy surf. Tilly, formerly weighed 86 pounds; Kahuna was 172 pounds when first admitted.
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