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News Notes – Florida & the South

Sick Florida turtle finds way to doctor

A sick loggerhead sea turtle accidentally found its own way to the doctor, almost landing at the doorstep of The Turtle Hospital in the Florida Keys. The hospital happens to be the only licensed veterinary facility in the world that exclusively treats sea turtles.

The turtle hospital staff found this sick turtle near the facility.

Staff members of the Turtle Hospital saw an 80-pound turtle March 30, swimming just 20 feet away from turtle rehabilitation pools. The turtle stayed for several hours and, after a closer visual examination, hospital administrator Ryan Butts determined the reptile was not well. He and other staff members rescued the turtle and treated it for a bacterial infection in his bloodstream.

“We’ve went out and rescued several thousand turtles over the past 25 years, but this is the first time a turtle has ever tracked us down and showed up at our doorstep,” Butts says.

New Web site for powerboat racing photographer

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Paul Kemiel, a veteran powerboat racing photographer and frequent Soundings contributor, has a new Web site at Kemiel has been photographing Unlimited Hydroplanes, Offshore, and F1/tunnel boats since 1981.

Boat-buying basics seminar at Trawler Fest

Kadey-Krogen Yachts partner John Gear will present a seminar on boat buying basics at PassageMaker Magazine’s Trawler Fest, which takes place June 26-28 in Greenport, N.Y.

Gear’s seminar, Boat Buying Basics, takes place June 26 from 10:30 a.m.-12 p.m. It will target consumers interested in buying both new and used boats, and will guide them through the critical questions to ask as well as follow-up steps. From the beginning of the search to ownership of a new boat, Gear will cover the details on the purchase process including negotiating, surveys and paperwork. Gear purchased the Edward B. Freeman Yacht Brokerage in Stuart, Fla., in 1976, and joined Kadey-Krogen Yachts in 2002. For more information visit

FWC reports fewer Fla. fatalities in 2008

The Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission reported 54 boating fatalities in 2008 — a 30-percent drop from 2007. “Although boating fatalities were down in 2008, so far in 2009 21 people have lost their lives on the state’s waters,” says Lt. Ed Cates of the FWC’s boating and waterways section.

For information on the 2008 boating statistics, visit the Boating area at

New book tallies the phosphate industry

A new book titled “Phosphate Ships of the Boca Grande: 1911-1979” (Southern Heritage Press, 2009) examines the history of Port Boca Grande and its substantial contribution to the phosphate shipping industry.

Author Charles Fuss also explores the little-known story of the casualties of the merchant ships and seamen that visited the port during World War II. The rate of lives lost, nearly one in 26 merchant seamen, surpassed that of any other United States military service during the World War II.

Phosphate rock was an important ingredient in the production of fertilizer. As the agricultural industry continued to grow rapidly in the early 20th century, phosphate mining in Boca Grande became highly valuable.

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Cargo ships eventually replaced large four- and five-masted wooden schooners in the 1920s and ’30s. During World War II, phosphate shipping nearly shut down and Port Boca Grande instead “became a refuge for ships seeking protection from German subs in the Gulf,” Fuss says.

Of the 700 merchant ships that visited Port Boca Grande, 116 were sunk during World War II, and 1,798 merchant sailors went down with those ships, says Fuss. Shipping resumed after the war using massive tug-barge units until the Port Boca Grande terminal closed in 1979.

A native of Tampa, Fla., Fuss has spent many years at sea, with the United States Navy and aboard research ships for NOAA. He retired in 1990 and is currently the volunteer historian for the American Victory Mariners Memorial & Museum Ship in Tampa.

Fuss is the author of “Sea of Grass” (Naval Institute Press, 1996), the “SS American Victory” (Southern Heritage Press, 2006) and more than 50 maritime articles. Fuss is also a contributing writer for Soundings.

The Boca Grande Historical Society sells “Phosphate Ships of the Boca Grande: 1911-1979” for $20 plus shipping and handling. Contact Kim Kyle at (941) 964-1600.

— Ben Woodworth

Four hurricanes retired from list of storms

The World Meteorological Organization’s hurricane committee retired three hurricane names in the Atlantic and one in the eastern North Pacific from the official name rotation because of the deaths and damages they caused in 2008.

The names Gustav, Ike, and Paloma in the Atlantic and Alma in the North Pacific will not be used again. In their place will be Gonzalo, Isaias and Paulette in the Atlantic and Amanda in the North Pacific. The committee issues the list of potential names for tropical cyclones to be used every six years for both the Atlantic basin and eastern North Pacific basin.

In late August and early September 2008, Gustav killed 112 people — including 77 in Haiti — and caused more than $4 billion in damages in Louisiana.

Ike killed more than 80 people across the Caribbean and Bahamas, and another 20 in Texas, Louisiana and Arkansas. Total U.S. property damage from Ike is estimated at $19.3 billion.

Paloma reached hurricane intensity Nov. 7 and became the second-strongest November Atlantic hurricane on record the next day, reaching Category 4. According to the Cuban government, 1,400 homes were destroyed on that island with $300 million in damage.

Alma was the first eastern North Pacific basin tropical cyclone to make landfall along the Pacific Coast of Central America since records began in 1949. The storm formed quickly on May 28, 2008, west-northwest of Cabo Blanco, Costa Rica. Alma was responsible for two deaths and the destruction of thousands of homes.

This article originally appeared in the Florida and the South Home Waters section of the July 2009 issue.