Critically endangered sea turtle rescued off coast of Florida

Turtle found wrapped in fishing gear, ingested pollutant

By Harley Smith - Digital Intern

An endangered sea turtle that was found tangled in a buoy miles offshore on June 13 is now being treated for injuries caused by the entanglement. 

The turtle was discovered when boaters noticed a bright orange buoy bobbing up and down. They then inspected the buoy and found, wrapped in the line beneath the water, a young Kemp's ridley sea turtle. 

The rare sea turtle, first listed as endangered in 1973, was rescued and taken to Clearwater Marine Aquarium for rehabilitation. 

The sea turtle, named Donkey Kong by the staff, suffered injuries to his flipper caused by the tightly wound line that had been around it. The injuries made it impossible for Donkey Kong to dive.

Donkey Kong's flipper was treated at the aquarium, and while he was healing, he passed a piece of a balloon that he had mistakenly ingested in the waters. Yet another trace of how humans have impacted the young turtle. 

Donkey Kong continues to recover at Clearwater Marine Aquarium and will return to the ocean soon. Until his return, you can watch Donkey Kong on his webcam or visit him at the aquarium. 

Although Donkey Kong was rescued and treated, not all marine life is so fortunate. 

A study from the University of Exeter found that more than 1,000 sea turtles are killed every year from plastic waste. It's a number that "is almost certainly a gross underestimate," according to the lead author of the study, Professor Brendan Godley. 

Many sea turtles fatally mistake pollutants such as balloons, plastic bags and debris for jellyfish and other food they normally eat, according to a spokesperson from the Clearwater Marine Aquarium (CMA).

The team at the CMA hopes that Donkey Kong's story inspires us to do our part in keeping the oceans clean. 

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