odds and ends 9/15

Sunday, September 15, 2002

Woman finds baby sea turtle with 2 heads

NAPLES, Fla. -- What started as a routine day for sea turtle monitor Mary Toro turned out to be one of her most memorable -- after she found a baby turtle with two heads.

"I was shocked. I couldn't believe it," Toro said after finding the creature Thursday morning near Naples Cay.

Toro's boss, 20-year sea turtle monitoring veteran Maura Kraus, said she comes across two-headed turtle embryos every couple of years but had never seen one survive.

"This is the first time I've ever seen one alive, fully developed and hatched," Kraus said.

Toro found the turtle as she dug up a nest that had hatched three days earlier. Monitors routinely dig up old nests of the protected turtles to count the number of hatched and unhatched eggs and rescue any stragglers.

Anne Meylan, a researcher with the Florida Marine Research Institute in St. Petersburg, said the two-headed creature likely is a natural occurrence, not caused by chemicals or any other outside influence.

After consulting with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Kraus released the two-headed loggerhead into the Gulf of Mexico.

"We didn't want it to become a freak in a freak show," she said.

--From wire reports

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