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'Turtle Lady' Mary Nelson

See smaller Volunteer Beverly Ann Shipe holds a baby turtle before releasing it into the Gulf at Tigertail Beach. Marco Island is having a banner year for hatching out sea turtle nests. Lance Shearer/Eagle Correspondent

Photo by LANCE SHEARER

Volunteer Beverly Ann Shipe holds a baby turtle before releasing it into the Gulf at Tigertail Beach. Marco Island is having a banner year for hatching out sea turtle nests. Lance Shearer/Eagle Correspondent

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  • 'Turtle Lady' Mary Morgan, right, volunteer Beverly Shipe and assistant Ed Tucker release a pailful of baby turtles into the Gulf of Mexico. Marco Island is having a banner year for hatching out sea turtle nests. Lance Shearer/Eagle Correspondent
  • Volunteer Beverly Ann Shipe holds a baby turtle before releasing it into the Gulf at Tigertail Beach. Marco Island is having a banner year for hatching out sea turtle nests. Lance Shearer/Eagle Correspondent
  • Marco Island is having a banner year for hatching out sea turtle nests. Lance Shearer/Eagle Correspondent
  • Marco Island is having a banner year for hatching out sea turtle nests. Lance Shearer/Eagle Correspondent
  • Four baby turtles head for the water, except for the last one, heading in the wrong direction. Marco Island is having a banner year for hatching out sea turtle nests. Lance Shearer/Eagle Correspondent
  • Baby turtles head for the water of the Gulf in the afterglow of sunset. Marco Island is having a banner year for hatching out sea turtle nests. Lance Shearer/Eagle Correspondent
  • 'Turtle Lady' Mary Morgan, left, volunteer Beverly Shipe and assistant Ed Tucker take a pailful of baby turtles to the Gulf of Mexico. Marco Island is having a banner year for hatching out sea turtle nests. Lance Shearer/Eagle Correspondent
  • 'Turtle Lady' Mary Morgan releases baby turtles into the Gulf of Mexico at Tigertail Beach. Marco Island is having a banner year for hatching out sea turtle nests. Lance Shearer/Eagle Correspondent
  • Volunteer Beverly Ann Shipe holds a baby turtle before releasing it into the Gulf at Tigertail Beach. Marco Island is having a banner year for hatching out sea turtle nests. Lance Shearer/Eagle Correspondent

Marco Island is prime nesting habitat for sea turtles, including the loggerhead sea turtle caretta caretta, so big they had to name it twice. These gentle giants are protected under the Endangered Species Act. For decades, Mary Nelson has worked to improve the odds for turtle hatchlings on Marco, giving them the chance to at least start their ocean journey.

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