Banana Released on Aug. 24th by Sea Turtle Hospital at Whitney Lab

Banana Released on Aug. 24th by Sea Turtle Hospital at Whitney Lab

Published: Monday, July 25, 2016

The University of Florida Sea Turtle Hospital at Whitney Lab is pleased to announce that it released its seventh sea turtle, Banana, on Aug. 24, 2016, at Kelly Park East, 2550 N. Banana River Drive in Merritt Island. This location was selected for the release because it placed Banana back into the Banana River, which is where he/she was originally stranded.

On Jan. 19, 2016, Banana, a green sea turtle, arrived at the Sea Turtle Hospital at Whitney Lab as the hospital’s first patient of 2016. Banana was found with boat strike injuries as well as fibropapilloma, a disease that causes internal and external tumors to grow on the sea turtle, inhibiting normal functioning. Upon arrival, Banana became the hospital’s largest patient, weighing in at 80 pounds, and through the recovery process, also became one of the most well-known patients in the community.

“Banana is a celebrity in our community,” said Catherine Eastman, program coordinator at the Sea Turtle Hospital at Whitney Lab. “It’s not every day you see a sea turtle in a life jacket. Everyone loves Banana and his/her amazing story of recovery.”

The severity of Banana’s boat strike injuries required the Sea Turtle Hospital at Whitney Lab’s team to create a custom life jacket. Banana could not lift its head enough to take breaths in deep water, so the life jacket was necessary to make Banana comfortable in the water while the wounds healed.

Both wound-vac treatment and therapeutic laser treatment were used to help the boat strike injuries heal. These treatments help wounds heal up to 50 percent faster as well as reduce infection. On March 16, 2016, Banana’s wounds healed enough that he/she could swim unassisted and the life jacket was no longer needed.

With the wounds healed, Banana was healthy enough for surgery to remove the fibropapilloma tumors. A carbon dioxide laser was used, which is the most effective way to remove the tumors because it reduces bleeding, is less painful and shortens recovery time.

“Banana is strong and resilient. We hope all of our future patients recover as quickly as Banana did,” said Eastman. “Banana has a promising future.”

After eight months at the Sea Turtle Hospital at Whitney Lab, Banana was completely healed and ready for release. The last step Banana and the Sea Turtle Hospital at Whitney Lab team had to take was a two-hour road trip to the Banana River. Banana was sedated for the trip.

Upon arrival and once the sedation wore off, Banana took the plunge into the Banana River at a leisurely pace after stopping to eat along the way. Now, Banana is back home in the Banana River with a healthy and bright future ahead.

The Sea Turtle Hospital at Whitney Lab opened in October 2015 to provide rehabilitation, education and research for sea turtle conservation in Northeast Florida. The hospital rehabilitates debilitated and injured sea turtles, and, once healthy and cleared by the veterinarian, releases them back to their habitat. The hospital also researches fibropapilloma disease, which is increasingly impacting sea turtles in Northeast Florida waters. The Sea Turtle Hospital at Whitney Lab depends on the generous support of the community to operate, donations for the therapeutic cold laser were essential to Banana’s recovery. If you are interested in helping support the hospital, please visit or call 904-461-4018.