Sea turtle recovering after being found with 3-foot spear in its neck

KEY LARGO, Florida -- A sea turtle found in the Florida Keys with a 3-foot-long spear in its neck is now getting some help from veterinarians.

The 150-pound turtle is being treated at Turtle Hospital in Marathon, Florida after being found on Carysport Reef off Key Largo last weekend with a spear protruding from its neck.

"The good news is the turtle has been named Splinter by the rescuers and is alive today and in surprisingly good condition," said Bette Zirkelbach from Turtle Hospital.

Splinter has had quite the ordeal. The veterinarians caring for him are finding signs that this incident was no accident.

"The turtle has an injury on its castron or underneath where it looks like somebody tried to spear the turtle. But there's bone there, so they must have tried to spear it from underneath and then went for the neck when it didn't work from underneath, so it does not look like an accident," Zirkelbach told WSVN-TV.

And they say this turtle has been suffering for at least a month.

"A lot of necrotic tissue has grown around it and there was what we call granuloma on the turtle's neck, which would be caused from that spear rubbing as the turtle moves its head," said Zirkelbach.

While medics at Turtle Hospital work to save Splinter, wildlife officials are working to find the person or persons responsible.

"It's the second case in close proximity this summer to where a green sea turtle has been speared. The first one was in June and it was found in Biscayne Bay there in Miami. Unfortunately, that turtle was dead and it had a spear in its head," said Zirkelbach.

They hope to bring an end to predatory behavior against these gentle sea creatures.

"It's important to put a stop to this, so we are trying to get as much information out there and educate people," said Zirkelbach.

A $5,000 reward is being offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of whomever injured Splinter.
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