Mike the sea turtle is on her way to the wild blue after her Monday release from Bayfront Park in Anna Maria.
The female loggerhead sea turtle clumsily lumbered across the sand into the shallows of Tampa Bay, hit deeper water, then soared off toward Fort Desoto as about 50 visitors, residents and Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch and Shorebird Monitoring staff and volunteers cheered.
Mote Marine’s Sea Turtle Rehabilitation Hospital staff treated her for probable red tide-induced lethargy after she was rescued off Longboat Key in January.
Not a stranger to being handled by humans, Mike had a passive integrated transponder tag, similar to microchips for pets, which the University of Central Florida staff implanted in 2011 when Mike nested in Brevard County.
If you see a sick, injured or dead marine mammal or sea turtle in Sarasota and Manatee counties, call Mote’s Stranding Investigations Program at 941-988-0212.