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Loggerhead Turtle Returned to Ocean After Doctors Treat it With Metamucil

May 27, 2013 03:30 PM EDT

A young loggerhead sea turtle was returned to the ocean some 25 miles off of the Florida Keys on Friday after nearly two weeks of treatment at Marathon’s Turtle Hospital.

The roughly 6-pound, foot-long animal nicknamed “Charley” was first located by a fisherman who spotted it floating in a patch of weeds 22 miles off of the Middle Keys.

Upon examination veterinarians discovered that Charley had ingested a small piece of plastic, causing its digestive system to become impacted.

Richie Maroetti, Turtle Hospital founder and director, said in a statement that turtles sometimes confuse plastic with one of their favorite food sources: jellyfish.

"It plugged up her bowel and she started to float," Moretti said. "We gave her some antibiotics and gave her a little Metamucil and she's just much better.”

Ultimately, however, Charley’s struggle is symptomatic of a much larger problem, Moretti warns.

"We just gotta keep plastic out of our ocean," he said.

In all, Turtle Hospital officials estimate that Charley traveled approximately 2,000 miles from its original June 2012 release point off Santa Marta, Colombia - a feat only accomplished with the help of ocean currents.

They discovered this using a metal identification tag on its flipper that indicated it had been nurtured from a hatchling as part of a sea turtle headstart cooperative program between Colombia's Jorge Tadeo Lozano University and the Mundo Marino Aquarium.

Loggerhead sea turtles were named for their relatively large heads, which support powerful jaws and allow them to feed on hard-shelled prey.

Though their average lifespan is unknown, loggerheads reach sexual maturity at around 35 years of age and can reach a total of 250 pounds.

They are further known to migrate over 7,500 miles (12,000 kilometers) between nesting beaches in Japan and feeding grounds off the cost of Mexico.

Finally, female loggerheads are known to travel hundreds of miles to nest, laying as many as 35 pounds (16 kilograms) of eggs or more and swimming back to her home foraging unit - all without eating anything significant.

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