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Sea Turtle 'Vicki Lee' Out Of Rehab, Released Back To Gulf Of Mexico With Satellite Tag News Service
September 29, 2009 18:11 EST

Vicki Lee on the beach before she swims away. Credit: Kelly Ireland, Mote Marine Laboratory

Loggerhead turtle Vicki Lee swimming away. Credit: Kelly Ireland, Mote Marine Laboratory

SARASOTA, Florida -- "Vicki Lee," a loggerhead sea turtle first tagged 21 years ago by Mote Marine Laboratory scientists as she nested on Casey Key, returned to the Gulf of Mexico last Friday morning after more than 160 days in rehabilitation.

The sea turtle returned to sea wearing a satellite transmitter that Mote researchers hope will track her ocean travels for the next six months to a year.

In April, Vicki Lee was found stranded in Naples, where a rescue team from Florida's Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission initially identified her through a microchip that Mote staff tagged her with in 2003. When she arrived at Mote for treatment, staff then found a metal tag placed on one of her flippers the first time she was ever tagged in 1988.

All told, Vicki Lee has been seen 12 times by Mote staff and tagged four times before her hospital admission this year: