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Injured sea turtle improving
By MIKE BRASSFIELD
© St. Petersburg Times, published March 12, 2000
CLEARWATER -- Things have been touch-and-go for Anna, the 825-pound sea turtle found beached and severely injured a week ago.
Her left flipper was amputated. Her skin got infected. She's being force-fed squid gruel through a tube.
But thanks to antibiotics, vitamins, "squid shakes" and round-the-clock care, Anna is showing signs of improvement. Biologists at Clearwater Marine Aquarium are cautiously optimistic that they'll be able to release her back into the wild.
"Our hope is to be able to attach a satellite tag and radio transmitter to her, then release her and follow her around for a little while," said aquarium spokesman Scott Swaim. "We would make sure she's able to dive and take care of herself before we would leave the area."
The endangered leatherback turtle was named Anna because she was rescued from the shore of Anna Maria Island on March 4. Biologists hope to release her within two weeks because this species of turtle doesn't do well in captivity.
Anna, 5 feet 4 inches long, is the biggest sea turtle the Clearwater aquarium has ever treated. The few turtles close to her size that have come through in recent years died within days of their arrival.
The rare creatures are accustomed to feeding in the deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico and typically can't deal with living in a smaller tank.
For days, Anna floated on the surface of her 20-foot-wide, 4-foot-deep tank, unable to swim to the bottom.
That has changed -- a good sign.
"She's riding lower in the water, which is very exciting for us," Swaim said Saturday. "Yesterday she went to the bottom of the pool -- the main thing she needs to do for us to be able to release her."
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