Freed Loggerhead Turtle

A loggerhead sea turtle named Vicki Lee was first tagged by scientists 21 years ago. She nested in Casey Key and returned to the Gulf of Mexico on a recent morning after more than 160 days in rehabilitation at Mote Marine laboratory.She wore a satellite transmitter that reseachers hope will track her ocean travels for the next six months to a year.

In April, Vicki Lee was found stranded in Naples, where a rescue team from Florida’s Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission initially identified her through a microchip placed by Mote staff in 2003. When she arrived at the Sarasota lab for treatment, staff then found a metal tag placed on one of her flippers by Mote scientists the first time she was ever tagged in 1988.


All told, Vicki Lee has been seen twelve times by Mote staff and tagged four times before her hospital admission this year: In 1988, she was sighted three times and laid three nests; in 1996, she was sighted five times and laid four nests; in 1999, she was sighted twice and laid two nests; and in 2003, she was sighted twice and laid two nests.

Before her recent release she was tagged again, this time with a high-tech satellite transmitter that will allow Dr. Tony Tucker to follow her in the water.

“It’s incredibly important to know about both her life on the nesting beach—the maternity ward—and learn about what she does after leaving the beach,” Tucker, manager of Mote’s Sea Turtle Conservation and Research Program, told the crowd gathered on the beach for Vicki Lee’s release. He attached the satellite tag to Vicki Lee’s shell with epoxy and coated the area with paint designed to keep barnacles and algae from growing on it.

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