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A Second Chance for Seven Rehabilitated Sea Turtles

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Gulfarium staffer Ellyn Willse returns a rehabilitated sea turtle to the Gulf.

The Gulfarium’s C.A.R.E. Center released seven rehabilitated sea turtles on Tuesday, June 19.


The seven rehabilitated sea turtles were all juvenile Greens. They were hooked by fishermen at Navarre Beach Fishing Pier, rescued, and brought to the C.A.R.E. Center for further evaluation per Florida Fish and Wildlife guidelines. Luckily, the injuries were external and did not require surgery. As a result, these particular sea turtles made a speedy recovery, and went back into the Gulf in record time.


Lefty was the first of the seven to arrive at the C.A.R.E. Center. Lefty was hooked in the eye socket and arrived to the C.A.R.E. Center on June 2, 2018. Lefty suffered from significant swelling around the left eye. This sea turtle also had an old sabiki hook wound with the hook still attached to the front right shoulder, and an old hook fragment embedded in the left shoulder. In addition to the hooks, Lefty was able to pass a rubber band that had been swallowed prior to arrival at the Gulfarium.


Pinny, Aloe, Vera, Heather, and Orchid all arrived between June 8 and June 11. They all suffered from hook puncture wounds to the front flipper.


The C.A.R.E. Center received the seventh sea turtle, Tyke, the night before the scheduled release. Weighing just under six pounds, the little Green was hooked at Navarre Beach Fishing Pier Monday night. Despite the hook injury, Tyke showed healthy body composition and x-rays. C.A.R.E. staff contacted FWC first thing the next morning to get permission for Tyke’s release.


Surrounded by the crowds, Gulfarium team members Ellyn Willse and John Nolan assisted with carrying the sea turtles into the water. Gulfarium president Will Merrill was in attendance to witness the special occasion. “Our team has been very busy this year,” said Mr. Merrill. “We are going to have another record year. Sixty sea turtles have come through our C.A.R.E. Center so far this year.”


After leaving the release site at Fort Pickens, C.A.R.E. staff went straight to Navarre Beach to assist with three more Green sea turtles that were hooked at the Fishing Pier. All three sea turtles are now being rehabilitated at the Gulfarium.


The Gulfarium CARE Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, is proud to act as a beacon for coastal conservation through marine animal rescue and rehabilitation.

– Meredith Horn
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