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'Obama,' a rescued loggerhead turtle, released on Independence Day

July 8, 2009 |  1:19 pm

Obama the loggerhead turtle

Shortly before President Obama's inauguration in January, an ailing loggerhead turtle was discovered in the waters off Key West, Fla.  Local residents boating in the area found the distressed turtle floating and unable to dive.  Like other sick and injured turtles in the area, the 200-pound behemoth was taken to the Turtle Hospital, a nonprofit organization based in Marathon, Fla., that has the sole purpose of caring for sea turtles.

Although the turtle was a female, her rescuers named her Obama in honor of the soon-to-be-president.  (We're not sure how the president would feel about such a tribute, but we're reasonably certain it was meant as a compliment.)  An X-ray showed that Obama was suffering from an intestinal impaction.  The treatment for such a malady, according to the Turtle Hospital's blog: "Extra squid with Mineral Oil!"  By summertime, she had recuperated and was ready to return to the ocean.

Since Obama's rescue had a patriotic element, her rescuers thought July 4 would be an appropriate day to release her.  A crowd gathered at Higgs Beach in Key West, snapping photos and cheering her on as she was set free. 

Loggerheads are the world's largest hard-shelled turtles -- they weigh about 250 pounds on average, but have been known to reach 1,000 pounds or more -- and are an endangered species.  Fun fact: A group of loggerhead turtles is called a flotilla!

-- Lindsay Barnett

Photo: Obama's release in Key West.  Credit: Rob O'Neal / Associated Press

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