Twenty-one critically endangered Kemp’s ridley sea turtles that had been rescued in New England a couple of months ago were safely released in Louisiana on Thursday. Over 1,200 young Kemp’s ridley sea turtles were “cold-stunned” and stranded in November and December.
The Audubon Nature Institute for Marine Mammals and Sea Turtles received 27 turtles after the mass cold-stunning, but one did not survive. The five unreleased sea turtles suffered from pneumonia or problems with their shells and flippers, and will remain at the institute for another month to receive antibiotics and nutrition.
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More on rescue of sea turtles
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration explains “cold-stunning” as occurring when the circulatory systems of sea turtles (or other cold-blooded animals) exposed to very cold water temperatures for several days slow down so much the turtles cannot function. Cold-stunning can be fatal.
Sea-turtle rehabilitation facilities all up and down the east and Gulf coasts all agreed to take in and care for a number of stunned turtles.
Statement from Audubon Nature Institute
Suzanne Smith, the stranding-and-rescue coordinator for the Audubon Nature Institute for Marine Mammals and Sea Turtles, noted that 21 of the 27 turtles she and her colleagues received were released into the Gulf of Mexico, more than 20 miles off the coast of Grand Isle, Louisiana on Thursday.
“It was a beautiful day,” she said. “We couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful day.”
Details on the release of rescued sea turtles
Smith highlighted that the turtles were carefully transported for 100 miles from the institute’s aquatic center and were then loaded onto two boats. The turtles were shielded from the sun, and taken 24 miles out to sea and released into the wild.
The sea turtles were released by hand on a sunny day with temperatures in the low 70s and calm seas..
The turtles swam strongly away from the boats, disappearing into the water as Smith and Audubon Nature Institute veterinarian Dr. Tres Clarke were all smiles.
One of the 27 turtles the Audubon institute received did not survive, Smith said. The other five, which had suffered from pneumonia or problems with their shells and flippers, will remain in the rescuers’ care for about a month to receive antibiotics and nutrition.