Thursday morning, June 1, Mote Marine Laboratory released a male loggerhead sea turtle, nicknamed “Steve,” that has been outfitted with a satellite tag by Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch, which provides data critical for sea turtle conservation efforts.

“Steve” washed ashore on Captiva in Lee County on March 28, 2023, and was transported to Mote Marine Laboratory’s Sea Turtle Rehabilitation Hospital.

Upon arrival, the turtle was lethargic and initial observations suggested the turtle was affected by toxins from red tide. “Steve” was started on injectable antibiotics and subcutaneous fluids until red tide toxicity symptoms improved.

After just over two months of rehabilitative care, wildlife officials deemed “Steve” releasable.

Prior to the release, “Steve” was given a satellite tag by the Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch. Satellite tracking involves attaching a special piece of equipment to a sea turtle’s shell. The transmitter, or ‘tag,’ sends a message to a satellite each time the turtle comes to the surface to breathe. Researchers then know the location of the turtle and plot it onto a map, which can be found at

“Rehabbing and releasing turtles is what we work for and strive for, and today’s release is just as rewarding as the first turtle I released with Mote 23 years ago,” said Lynn Byrd, Mote’s Rehabilitation and Medical Care Manager. “‘Steve’ suffered from neurotoxicity due to red tide exposure, and had we not intervened, he would have died. With this second chance at life, ‘Steve’ is able to provide valuable research data for the conservation of his species as the Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch outfitted him with a satellite tag, which can be tracked on Mote’s website.”

Male sea turtles do not return to land after they leave the beach as hatchlings, unless they are injured or sick. Therefore, they are a more elusive group to study. By satellite tagging adult male loggerheads that stranded and received hospital care, scientists can learn more about post-release behavior of rehabilitated turtles as well as behavior, habitat, home range and migratory pathways of adult male loggerheads in the Gulf of Mexico.

These research efforts were made possible through a grant from the Animal Welfare Institute, and are in collaboration between Mote Marine Laboratory and Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch.

The public can follow “Steve’s” track at

Within Sarasota or Manatee county waters, if you see a stranded or dead sea turtle, dolphin or whale, please call Mote’s Stranding Investigations Program, a 24-hour response service, at 888-345-2335.

If you see a stranded or dead manatee anywhere in state waters or a stranded or dead sea turtle, dolphin or whale outside of Sarasota or Manatee counties, please call the FWC Wildlife Alert hotline at 1 (888) 404-FWCC (3922).

Mote’s sea turtle activities are conducted under Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Marine Turtle Permits 155, 216, 027, 054, 070, 048, 126 and 028.

Fast Facts:

  • In 2022, Mote’s Sea Turtle Hospital rehabilitated and released 29 sea turtles
  • Since the Sea Turtle Hospital opened in 1995, Mote has released 841 sea turtles
  • Mote’s Sea Turtle Hospital currently has three more sea turtle patients, two of which have experienced some symptoms related to red tide exposure.
  • Including “Steve,” Mote’s Sea Turtle Hospital has released 19 sea turtles with satellite tags