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9:34 AM Sat, Sept. 22nd

Man's ashes sent to sea on back of turtle

A sea turtle named Picasso carries the ashes of Tony Amos, 80, a renowned oceanographer, on it's back as it is released back into the Gulf of Mexico following a memorial service, Saturday, Sept. 30, 2017, in Port Aransas, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

A sea turtle named Picasso carries the ashes of Tony Amos, 80, a renowned oceanographer, on it's back as it is released back into the Gulf of Mexico following a memorial service, Saturday, Sept. 30, 2017, in Port Aransas, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

PORT ARANSAS, Texas (AP) — A rescued green sea turtle named Picasso was released back into the Gulf of Mexico on Saturday, carrying the ashes of a self-taught Texas oceanographer who founded the rehabilitation center that helped nurse it back to health.

Hundreds of well-wishers surged forward to get better views during a sunset ceremony that effectively allowed Tony Amos, who devoted his life to helping the endangered reptiles, to do so once more in death. On a stretch of beach named in his honor, Amos' wife, Lynn; his son, Michael; and other relatives sprinkled ashes on the turtle's back, then watched it slowly flap and craw its way into the waves.

"Come on little turtle, off you go. The sun's about to set," called Lynn Amos, when the creature stopped and briefly raised its head, almost as if to acknowledge the onlookers.

Many in attendance were barefoot. Some choked back tears. When the turtle finally disappeared into the shimmering surf, a few cried, "Bye Tony!"

Amos, 80, died of complications from prostate cancer on Sept. 4, mere days after Harvey roared ashore as a fearsome Category 4 hurricane. It damaged the Animal Rehabilitation Keep for ailing sea turtles and aquatic birds that Amos opened nearly four decades ago.