Mr. Merriam, a giant loggerhead sea turtle, experienced one of the most magnificent journeys back to the sea. The turtle was present on the Hightower Beach Park in Florida.
Mr. Merriam returned to the sea in the spotlight, under the curious eyes of a fascinated audience. They accompanied the turtle on its way, crammed behind rope lines and hidden between cameras which waited impatiently to capture the moment.
Around 200 people were present to witness the moment. Four people carried the sea turtle that weighed 132 pounds from the Hightower Beach Park dune crossover to the beach, where they lowered it into the sea and set it free. Then, Mr. Merriam started paddling into the waves and disappeared below the surface, all in the ovations of the public that was almost brought to tears.
The huge impression that this release brought to the audience was given by the dramatic past of Mr. Merriam. He was rescued after he was found stranded and injured on the beach at SRPA Park in South Patrick Shores. This all happened on October 16th, which is National Dictionary Day. This is how Mr. Merriam got his name.
Melanie Stadler, the coordinator of the sea turtle program at Brevard Zoo, was one of those who took care of Mr. Merriam and took him to the Sea Turtle Healing Center. She declared that they had found him in a very poor condition. He was starving, lethargic, covered in barnacles, and he also had a huge wound in the bottom shell.
His weight was around 108 pounds, so they needed to take all the emergency measures and they transported the sick turtle to the Viera Zoo, where he could receive better care. The volunteers got in the tank to put food directly into his mouth, treated him with antibiotics and vitamins, and helped him recover and reach 132 pounds.
Mr. Merriam is the largest sea turtle that was released from the Sea Turtle Healing Center. He even was too large for the plastic bins at the zoo, so he had to be transported to Hightower Beach Park in a children’s swimming pool.
The volunteers that helped Mr. Merriam recover are happy that he is in such a good state and are excited that he is now able to return to his home.
Image Source: Wikimedia Commons