Aquarium Releases Endangered Sea Turtles

Aquarium Releases Endangered Sea Turtles

The fruits of The Florida Aquarium’s Sea Turtle Conservation Program labor were realized with the release of five rehabbed sea turtles including two Kemp’s Ridley and three greens in North Ormond Beach. After months of specialized and compassionate care, the release was a triumphant celebration for turtle caretakers; especially during what has been a record-setting year for sea turtle stranding throughout the United States.

Rescued from a large cold-stunned event off the coast of New England, the Kemp’s were subsequently flown by Turtles Fly Too, a non-profit organization dedicated to bringing together general aviation and sea turtle conservation, for long-term care at The Florida Aquarium’s Sea Turtle Conservation Center.

Cold-stunning occurs when cold-blooded animals, like sea turtles, are exposed to unusually cold water and/or air temperatures for an extended period of time; causing a hypothermic reaction that may include a lower heart rate, decreased circulation, lethargy, secondary infections including pneumonia and if left untreated, death.

The two Kemp’s received extended care for persistent symptoms of pneumonia before being released into the open ocean of the Atlantic.

While large stunning events are happening in other parts of the country, turtles in our own backyard are also affected by cold waters and changing conditions; making the efforts of The Florida Aquarium to not only to care for these endangered animals, but also to increase public awareness of the things that can be done to protect the natural environment, even more critical.

The three green sea turtles faced a similar fate off the East Coast of Florida in Volusia County. Rescued by Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), the turtles arrived at The Florida Aquarium on March 4. A duo was treated for pneumonia and other symptoms of cold-stunning. An additional green turtle was received as part of a record-setting date of March 23 when the team at The Florida Aquarium admitted 17 rescued turtles, the largest number the facility had ever received.

Text and photos courtesy The Florida Aquarium.

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2019 Turtle Season Ends This Month

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2019 Turtle Season Ends This Month

By Kai Rambow

 

The calendar says summer is over, but it’s still turtle season on Florida beaches. If you do head to the beach this month, no doubt you’ll see areas blocked off. Hundreds of volunteers work to ensure turtle activity is tracked and nests are protected. Turtle season officially runs from May 1 to October 31.  Several turtles nested in late April; apparently, they didn’t get the notice.

Mote Aquarium is one of many organizations in Florida coordinating efforts to protect sea turtles. Mote has over 300 volunteers patrolling 35 miles of beaches every morning. 

Volunteers are trained before nesting season starts.  Many beaches are closed at night to allow the turtles to come ashore and nest. As the sun rises, volunteers patrol the beaches looking for turtle tracks and nests. They report anything significant to a biologist to log any activity and block off any nest.

Large, loggerhead turtles are the main species nesting on these beaches.  Loggerheads only nest every two to three years.  When they do lay eggs, they nest four to seven times, about every two weeks, laying an average of 100 eggs at a time.  Despite these seemingly impressive numbers, only about one in one thousand makes it to adulthood.

Watch can you do?  Do not disturb any wildlife at the beach.  Leave blocked off areas, including flag markings alone.

 

IN THE PHOTO:  Melissa Bernhard, Senior Biologist at Mote Aquarium, logs information on this false crawl.  A loggerhead turtle came ashore, but returned to the water before nesting.  Humans, lights and other activities can easily disturb sea turtles.

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