A green sea turtle that was badly injured was sent back into the wild off Florida's coast on Wednesday.
The injured turtle that nearly lost his life underwent months of intensive medical care at Loggerhead Marinelife Center to reverse damage that was caused by the propellers of a wayward motorboat.
Andre, a 177-pound green turtle was named after the U.S. wrestling star Andre the Giant.
Every year more than hundreds of dead or injured turtles are found on Florida's beaches. These turtles get injured because of speedboats, entanglement in fishing lines and sudden changes in water temperature.
But Andre was among those lucky who was saved and became a local celebrity.
Hundreds of people gathered in Juno Beach, Fla., to say a final good bye to Andre.
"It's been such a process just to get to this point. We've all grown to love him so much, and he's been a big part of our lives for the past 13 months," Melissa Ranley, coordinator of the Marine Life Center's turtle hospital told Reuters.
Beach goers discovered Andre on sandbars in June 2010. He had major injuries on his shell; 30 percent of his shell was missing, his spine was shattered and his lung had collapsed.
Dr. Nancy Mettee, staff veterinarian at the Marine Life Center, saved the turtle by removing three pounds of sand from his wounds and a live crab from inside his shell. "The fact that he was alive at all was a miracle," Mettee said.
"It is a little bittersweet because, you know, we've grown so attached to him. We hope everything will work out for him," Melissa Ranley, a volunteer with Loggerhead Marinelife Center said.
Andre during a year of rehabilitation got too familiar with the small circular hospital tank.
First he refused to budge but then Ranly and other co-workers picked him up and placed him in the gentle surf. Finally, Andre began to swim off. There were
whistles, applause and cheers of the crowd on the beach.
Andre was released on perfect time. It is the mating season for the green sea turtles.
Andre was marked with a distinctive tracing tag before he was released so that researchers can track his progress.
While Andre was at the center, more than 200 people donated between $35 and $50 to "adopt" him and partly bankroll his medical treatment.