Johnny, the lost world traveling turtle is home again
|Johnny the well traveled turtle|
The endangered Kemp’s turtle sea turtle was released into the ocean near Sarasota, Fla., on Tuesday with 300 well-wishers to send him off.
|(Photo credit: N. Slimak/Mote Marine Laboratory)|
“This was a little turtle that instead of hanging near the shore, its little sargassum clump got swept away by the current,” Tucker said. “It took the wrong turn as the current spun off.”
In 2008, the turtle likely got pulled into the powerful Gulf Stream, ending up in Europe, Tucker said. The turtle was rescued in the Netherlands and cared for at the Rotterdam Zoo, where they nicknamed him Johnny.
Next, he traveled to the Oceanario de Lisboa aquarium in Portugal and then to a rehabilitation facility at Zoomarine in Portugal, where the turtle has spent much of the past three years.
Johnny’s caretakers in Portugal were “enamored” with the turtle, Tucker said, and started calling it Johnny Vasco da Gama, after Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama, due to his extensive traveling.
Once it was determined that the turtle was from the Gulf of Mexico region, it took several years to return it because of complex international laws for humans transporting endangered species.
“Anytime you see the word ‘permit’ with endangered species, there’s a substantial amount of paperwork,” Tucker said. “Unfortunately, turtles are international citizens. They move regardless of what we are constrained by [legally].”
In November, the jet-setting turtle finally arrived in Miami and was cared for at Mote and equipped with a satellite transmitter that allows researchers to track Johnny’s whereabouts and progress.
On Tuesday, Johnny was gently placed on the beach in Lido Key, Fla., and coaxed back into the water to begin re-adjusting life in the wild.
Story courtesy of http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/technology/2011/12/johnny-the-turtle-is-released-after-10k-mile-journey/