The Florida Aquarium Releases Sea Turtles

The Florida Aquarium Releases Sea Turtles

The Florida Aquarium’s Animal Response Team successfully released two green sea turtles back into the Atlantic Ocean at Matanzas Inlet.

“It’s always a great day when you get to see turtles go back into the wild after being rehabilitated. Izar holds a special place in my heart after all the treatment that he was given and with the amputation of his front right flipper,” said Dr. Lindsey Waxman, The Florida Aquarium’s Associate Veterinarian. “I am confident that Izar will do well in the wild with no issue. Marco was the smallest of the turtles when he came in, so it’s exciting to see this turtle rehabbed and ready to go back to the natural environment.” 

The two sea turtles, Izar and Marco, arrived at The Florida Aquarium’s Sea Turtle Rehabilitation Center in Apollo Beach on April 1, 2019, from Volusia County. The duo was found suffering from cold-stunning, which is when sea turtles are exposed to cold ocean water and air temperatures for an extended period, rendering them immobile since they are cold-blooded.

Cold-stunned turtles are unable to swim and can develop symptoms, including decreased heart rate, low blood circulation, and pneumonia. If they do not receive treatment, cold-stunned sea turtles can be susceptible to drowning, infections, predation, or boat strikes.

Upon intake, one of the sea turtles Izar had a puncture wound on its front right flipper, the injury has unknown origins. The turtle received a blood transfusion from one of the Aquarium’s other long-term patients Banner and its condition quickly improved. In the weeks following its care, Izar also received a CT Scan at Tampa General Hospital to get a better look at the injured flipper. Over time, The Florida Aquarium’s veterinary staff administered antibiotics in hopes of saving the flipper, but it was found that the injury was not healing correctly, and the flipper needed to be amputated. Izar has since completely recovered from surgery and can survive with no issue in the wild. 

After a short period in rehab at The Florida Aquarium’s Sea Turtle Rehabilitation Center in Apollo Beach, Izar and Marco were cleared for release back into the wild by Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) and the veterinary staff at the Aquarium.

Since opening earlier this year, The Florida Aquarium’s Sea Turtle Rehabilitation Center has taken in 14 sea turtle patients for care. Currently, the Center houses three species of turtle including loggerhead, green and Kemp’s ridley. Since opening in 1995, The Florida Aquarium has rescued hundreds of ill and injured sea turtles. Guest admission and memberships help support these rescue efforts along with generous donations.

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Florida Aquarium Returns Green Sea Turtles to The Ocean

Florida Aquarium Returns Green Sea Turtles to The Ocean

The Florida Aquarium’s Animal Response Team recently returned four rehabilitated green sea turtles to the Atlantic Ocean at Wilbur-By-The-Sea in Volusia County. The release of these sea turtles was made possible through the Aquarium’s ongoing partnership with Florida Blue as well as the direct support of The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, who has authorized The Florida Aquarium to treat sick or injured endangered sea turtles.

With an emphasis on critical care and release back into their natural environment, The Florida Aquarium’s Animal Response Team assists with sea turtle rehabilitation not only in Tampa Bay, but statewide. They do everything they can to ensure the conservation and ongoing livelihood of these amazing animals.

The green sea turtles were brought into The Florida Aquarium’s Sea Turtle Rehabilitation Center in Apollo Beach in early February from Volusia County. These are among the first turtles to be cared for at the facility since it opened in January.

Upon initial assessment, all the turtles had suffered cold-stunning and were rescued on the state’s east coast. Cold-stunning is a hypothermic reaction that sea turtles can develop when exposed to cold water for a prolonged amount of time since turtles are cold-blooded and cannot warm themselves. Cold-stunned turtles are unable to swim and can develop symptoms, including decreased heart rate and circulation and pneumonia. If they do not receive treatment, cold-stunned sea turtles can die.

The Florida Aquarium’s Animal Response Staff worked around the clock to stabilize the sea turtles, gradually raising their body temperatures until they were able to swim. Additionally, the turtles received antibiotics, wound care, and fluid and nutritional support. Careful monitoring over the past several months has included blood work, x-rays, and regular physical exams.

“This recent return of sea turtles represents another major milestone for our expanding Sea Turtle Rehabilitation Center in Apollo Beach,” said Ari Fustukjian, The Florida Aquarium’s Senior Staff Veterinarian. “Helping these animals recover and getting them back out into their native habitat is the result of countless hours of hard work, and we are grateful to our conservation partners at Florida Blue, The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, and others for their assistance. With their support and that of our community, we hope to rescue many more sea turtles in the years to come.”

“This is a great day for conservation,” said Shannon Wright, Northeast Regional Director for the FWC. “Releasing these four turtles back into their natural habitat helps support our valuable, beautiful natural resources and reflects strong teamwork and commitment from various partners.”

The release was extremely successful, and all the turtles swam off immediately after being placed in the water. To learn more about The Florida Aquarium’s sea turtle conservation efforts, visit this website.

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This Memorial Day Weekend and every day, The Florida Aquarium remembers the fallen and thanks all military members and veterans for protecting and serving our country. Join them Memorial Day Weekend, Friday, May 24 – Monday, May 27, 2019, with amazing animals and plants that call the Aquarium home. The Aquarium is open every day: 9:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

During this upcoming holiday weekend, all active duty, veteran, retired or drilling reservist or National Guardsman can receive two free* general admission tickets. Additional guests (up to four people) also can get an exclusive 50% off Aquarium general admission ticket. To receive this ticket promotion, a valid military ID must be presented at The Florida Aquarium ticket office. Tickets are not available for advance online purchase.

While at the Aquarium, go from tree level to sea level and see more than 14,000 animals, including native Florida birds and otters, to sharks, alligators, seahorses and more. You are sure to have a fantastic experience. Sights include a large simulated wetlands environment located under a tall glass atrium, shallow bays, and beaches, and a coral reef ecosystem encompassed in half a million gallons of natural seawater.

After exploring all the exhibits inside, come aboard the 72-foot Wild Dolphin Cruise catamaran for a 75-minute excursion around Tampa Bay for a chance to see wild dolphins and seabirds in their natural habitat. (Reservations and an additional charge are required for the Wild Dolphin Cruise.)

To learn more about Memorial Day at The Florida Aquarium and all of the upcoming events offered at The Florida Aquarium year-round, visit the website.

 

*Offer includes any active duty, veteran, retired or drilling reservist or National Guardsmen and must be redeemed with a valid military ID at The Florida Aquarium Ticket Office. 

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