JUNO BEACH, Fla. - Andre the sea turtle is back in the ocean.
Faced with serious injuries, the Loggerhead Marinelife Center had been nursing the turtle back to health for more than a year.
Today -- in front of hundreds of spectators -- he made his way back home.
Andre's true journey began 13 months ago when he first came to the Loggerhead Marinelife Center.
"The first thing I thought when I saw him was 'wow, a big large male turtle,' we don't usually see that on our beach, we don't usually see males, so I thought we need to think of a name for a big turtle, we thought Andre the Giant," said Loggerhead Marinelife Center Hospital Coordinator Melissa Ranley
Andre was fighting a collapsed lung, pneumonia, an exposed spinal cord, severe infections -- as well as a shell with serious wounds from boat propellers.
The facility had to think outside the box to help. That's where orthodontist Alberto Vargas came in. He used his dental skills to put Andre's shell back together.
"I have never ever in my life anticipated that I would be working on turtles so no, I've never done this before, certainly the first time," said Vargas.
"These were uncharted waters for us so placing a call to the powers that be and without hesitation they ended up sending what we needed," said KCI nurse Letizia Shaffer.
Andre has made a full recovery.
And Wednesday morning hundreds came out to witness his return home.
"When it's morning, he's not gonna be there, he's gonna be at home with his mom and his dad ...maybe in the middle of the ocean," said six-year-old Aubrey Vale.
"We hope that he'll get back out there (the ocean), and get back into being a turtle," Ranley said.
Copyright Associated Press
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