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Loggerhead Sea Turtle Shot With Spear Gun, $13,000 Reward Offered

Sub adult female expected to make a full recovery

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A more than $13,000 reward is being offered for any information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person who shot a sub adult loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta caretta) in the head with a spear gun, according to The Turtle Hospital in Marathon, Florida where the female turtle is being cared for. The injured turtle was found with a spear through her head two weeks ago, three miles off Big Pine Key, Florida by two fishermen.


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The Turtle Hospital

Dr. Doug Mader of Marathon Veterinary Hospital works on Sara, the sub adult loggerhead sea turtle who was shot in the head with a spear gun.

After receiving permission by the Coast Guard, the pair rescued the turtle and were met at their boat dock by representatives of The Turtle Hospital, who then contacted a veterinarian, Dr. Doug Mader of Marathon Veterinary Hospital, who volunteers his time to treat injured turtles. Monroe County, Florida Fire Rescue was also called upon to assist in cutting the metal spear off the turtle.

"She is doing very well, swimming in a tank and still on medications," The Turtle Hospital told ReptileChannel. "We are waiting for her to start eating on her own now."

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The Turtle Hospital

Sara the loggerhead turtle recovers in her tank.

It appears the public is very interested in apprehending those responsible, as the reward now includes three free dives, three free fishing trips, eight hours of free welding and fabrication, and free picture framing and design consultation. Contact (305) 743-2552 for any information regarding this case. More information can also be found at The Turtle Hospital's website.

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The Turtle Hospital

The injured sea turtle was found with a spear through her head two weeks ago, three miles off Big Pine Key, Florida by two fisherman.

The loggerhead sea turtle can grow to about 7 feet in length and reach a weight of approximately 300lb. The turtle's range includes the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, the Indian ocean and the Mediterranean Sea. The turtle reaches sexual maturity in as little as 17 years and has an approximate lifespan of up to 67 years.  It feeds mainly on invertebrates, including sponges, shellfish, jellyfish, shrimp, squid, and sea urchins. The loggerhead sea  turtle nests in Florida from May through August, with egg incubation lasting about 60 days. Around 100 eggs are laid in each nest, and of those, very few will survive into adulthood. According to the IUCN's Marine Turtle Specialist Group, threats to loggerheads and other sea turtles include predation by raccoons, ghost crabs, birds, and sharks, and weather related events. Man made threats include harvesting of eggs and turtles for food, fishing net entanglements, coastal armoring, beach nourishment, and light pollution and marine pollution, such as the Gulf Oil Spill.

All sea turtles in the United States are on the endangered species list with the exception of the olive ridley and the loggerhead, which are listed as threatened. The loggerhead is a candidate for addition to the Endangered Species list, but there currently is disagreement on the data regarding the "magnitude and immediacy of the fisheries bycatch threat," as well as interpretation issues regarding the existing data on "status and trends and its relevance to the assessment of risk and extinction to the Northwest Atlantic Ocean Distinct Population Segment (DPS) of the loggerhead turtle." A final determination on the listing action is expected to be made public on September 16, 2011.

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