A leatherback turtle measuring more than 6 foot from head to tail was brought to the Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park Friday after stranding itself in Pensacola Beach Friday morning.
The leatherback is 6 1/2 feet long, 4 feet wide, weighs about 500 pounds and has a 7 to 8 foot wing span, according to Krista Stouffer, Gulfarium’s marketing and communications coordinator.
A front-end loader was used to carry the massive creature across the beach to a box truck, Stouffer said.
A bystander noticed the turtle struggling in shallow water around 9 a.m. and called the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
FWC alerted Gulf Islands National Seashore biologist Mark Nicholas and after performing an in-water assessment and assisting the turtle to shore, the Gulfarium was contacted by the state to perform a rescue operation.
Several bystanders assisted with buckets of water and towels to keep the turtle cool while Gulfarium staff veterinarian Dr. Rebecca Wells started IV fluids to provide hydration on the beach.
The leatherback was in stable condition Friday afternoon and under 24-hour observation and treatment at the Gulfarium.
This is not the same leatherback turtle that stranded in Rocky Bayou earlier this year as it is much larger and lacks identification tags. Additionally, it is clear from scarring on its shell that this turtle has been hit by boat propellers in the past.