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Andre the sea turtle

Andre, a sea turtle released into the Atlantic Ocean on Aug. 3 after recovering from injuries from a boat propeller, was found dead this morning after his body had washed ashore on Hutchinson Island.

Loggerhead officials were able to determine the turtle was Andre from an identification tag that was attached to one of his flippers.

The 170-pound green sea turtle was found in June 2010 stranded on a sandbar about 1.5 miles south of the Juno Beach Pier. Andre was treated for about a year by the medical staff at the Loggerhead Marinelife Center in Juno Beach, a nonprofit that rehabilitates injured and sick sea turtles.

The male turtle had two holes in his shell, a collapsed lung, severe infections and three pounds of sand stuck in his shell.

Officials used a "wound vacuum" to draw out all infectious fluids. They also used grafting material to repair Andre's spinal cord, which was exposed.

Using braces like bridges to either side of the wound, Abacoa orthodontist Dr. Alberto Vargas pushed and pulled Andre's shell to promote growth. Each day, caregivers twisted a key that clicked to adjust the braces. Vargas coaxed the shell to expand about one inch.

About 1,000 onlookers gathered to watch Andre's release at Juno Beach.

The cause of death could not be determined, said Brittany Miller, a Loggerhead spokeswoman.

Published in The Palm Beach Post from Aug. 25 to Sept. 25, 2011
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