COCOA BEACH, Florida – The Brevard Zoo released two green sea turtles during the Ron Jon Beach ‘N Board Fest at Shepard Park in Cocoa Beach on Friday afternoon after the final surf competition heat with all surfers and guests out of the water.
The two sea turtles, named Spicy Hawaiin and Benjamin, were found sick or injured and brought to the Brevard Zoo’s Sea Turtle Healing Center for care.
Spicy Hawaiian arrived at the Healing Center at the beginning of the year after a boater found the sea turtle floating in the Banana River. The sea turtle had symptoms of lethargy, stiffness, and inappetence, and was started on fluids and medications.
Benjamin was caught by a recreational fisherman at Jetty Park in Cape Canaveral, Florida. 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.
The Brevard Zoo’s Healing Center staff tried to gently remove the fishing line trailing into the stomach, but it was taut.
The string was then 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.
Brevard County has more sea turtle nests than any other county in Florida with 31,623 Loggerhead, 17,464 Green Turtle, and 143 Leatherback nests surveyed in 2022.
Green turtles, named for their green body fat, were valued by European settlers in the New World for their meat, hide, eggs, and “calipee” (the fat attached to the lower shell that formed the basis of the popular green turtle soup).
Merchants learned that the sea turtles could be kept alive by turning them on their backs in a shaded area. This discovery made it possible to ship fresh turtles to overseas markets. By 1878, 15,000 green turtles a year were shipped from Florida and the Caribbean to England.
To learn more about the sea turtles’ rehabilitation, visit the Brevard Zoo’s blog.