ST. PETERSBURG — On a routine mission Wednesday to assess navigational aids in the wake of Tropical Storm Debby, a U.S. Coast Guard crew came upon a party in distress.
A loggerhead turtle, evidently injured during the preceding storm, was floating in the path of maritime traffic in the middle of Egmont Channel, Coast Guard officials said. Crew members aboard a 45-foot Response boat snapped into action, halting their mission of clearing the main shipping channel for vessel traffic in order to rescue the injured animal.
Two crew members reached in the water with their arms to hoist the turtle on board, said Petty Officer 3rd Class Michael De Nyse, the Coast Guard spokesman. After removing the turtle from the water, Coast Guard members bestowed him with the moniker "Larry the Loggerhead."
"We saw the turtle having some issues, acting lethargic and unable to dive," Petty Officer 3rd Class Nathan Jones said in a news release.
"I joined the Coast Guard to save lives, and today, an endangered animal was my first one."
"Larry" was later taken to the Florida Aquarium in Tampa for treatment.
Loggerheads are large oceanic turtles found throughout the world. They are considered an endangered species by the U.S. government and international environmental organizations.