The Gulfarium’s C.A.R.E. Center released five rehabilitated sea turtles on the morning of March 13.
Several hundred people were in attendance at Henderson Beach State Park to witness the event. Four of the five sea turtles released were considered cold stunned. The fifth sea turtle to be released had been at the C.A.R.E. Center since December 3, 2017.
Anni, a sub-adult Loggerhead weighing 101 pounds, arrived with a severe entanglement injury to her front right flipper. The fishing line was wrapped around her flipper so tightly it ultimately severed the flipper shortly after her arrival to Gulfarium. In addition to external entanglement injuries, Anni also endured a successful surgery to remove an embedded hook in her system.
“We knew there was a chance we’d be releasing the sea turtles in colder weather, however, the Gulf water temp was well within range for the sea turtles,” said Graham Northup, Curator of Fish and Reptiles for the Gulfarium. “The surf was nice and calm, and it ended up being a beautiful morning.”
Wicket and Porg, two juvenile Green sea turtles, were the first to be released. Cindle, another juvenile Green, followed shortly after. Mazzy, a sub-adult Loggerhead, was released fourth. Mazzy was also a victim of the last cold snap back in January. “Sea turtles that end up cold stunned are predominantly very young. Mazzy was a unique case in that she was a little older,” said Mr. Northup.
Anni was the last of the five rehabilitated sea turtles to be released. Staff placed her down on the sand about 10 yards from the water’s edge. Anni decided to take her time, and gave the crowd an extra minute to take pictures. Anni sat in the sand patiently, until the C.A.R.E. team decided to help inch her along. Anni was lifted and carried closer to the water, and at that time she decided she was ready to head back into the Gulf.
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. Donations are tax-deductible and can be made online at Gulfarium.com.
– Meredith Horn