By Associated Press - Friday, January 31, 2020

ISLAMORADA, Fla. (AP) - Visiting Tibetan monks helped release a rehabilitated sea turtle in the Florida Keys Thursday.

Hundreds of spectators witnessed the release of “Drifter,” a 170-pound female adult loggerhead sea turtle that was rehabilitated at the Keys-based Turtle Hospital after she was found floating offshore of the Lower Keys last November.

The monks, from the Drepung Gomang Monastery in India, have been visiting the Keys for the last week. “Drifter” was released into the Atlantic Ocean off an Islamorada resort after an hour-long ceremony performed by the monks, each an ordained student of the Dalai Lama. Ritual chants aspired that the turtle and other animals enjoy long lives.

Minyak Rinpoche, the group’s leader, said that the key to ultimate happiness is compassion for all living things and loving kindness.

“We did a liberation prayer for the sea turtle, and also at the same time we pray for all the animals, all the species, we pray are free from the suffering and they can have a good time in their life,” Rinpoche said.

Staff at the Turtle Hospital have been rescuing, rehabilitating and returning turtles to the wild for almost 35 years.

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