Thursday, June 8, 2017

World Oceans Day: The Florida Aquarium Rescues and Releases Rehabilitated Sea Turtles

In honor of World Oceans Day, The Florida Aquarium and its Center for Conservation team released eight rehabilitated Kemp’s ridley sea turtles on the Canaveral National Seashore in New Smyrna, Florida today.
The endangered sea turtles, who saw their numbers decimated following the 2010 BP oil spill, were rescued and flown from New England in December to The Florida Aquarium. According to a press release issued today, the Aquarium says the turtles were "cold-stunned from a harsh cold-snap weather event that hit the northeast United States."
The eight turtles were part of a group of 12 the Aquarium received and has been rehabilitating, with the remaining four currently continuing to undergo rehabilitation at their facility in Tampa. The Aquarium’s veterinary team expects a full recovery for the remaining sea turtles and is optimistic they will also be ready for release soon, according to the press release.
Cold-stunning happens to sea turtles because they are cold blooded and cannot regulate their body temperature. They quickly become hypothermic and can wash ashore or become stranded at sea during extreme, sudden cold-weather events.
When the sea turtles arrived in Tampa, they underwent treatment for skin and shell wounds, similar to frostbite in humans. Several of the animals were treated with antibiotics to help remedy pneumonia. After five months of care, all eight of these animals were eating well, swimming normally and gaining weight, signaling that the medical care and rehabilitation efforts had been successful and they were ready to return to the Atlantic Ocean.
On World Oceans Day, it's important to remember that these are the fortunate turtles. By 2014, at least 500 dead Kemp's ridley sea turtles were found in the vicinity of the spill sight annually. As of 2017, the exact numbers are hardly known as much of the research is both still being done, and yet to be shared with the public.
Yet, highlighting the positive, Aquarium Associate Veterinarian Dr. Ari Fustukjian, who played a key part in rehabilitating the animals, said: “It’s always a great day when we can get rescued sea turtles back out to the ocean. Rescue, rehabilitation and release of marine animals is a huge part of The Florida Aquarium’s mission, and is a critical component to protect and restore our oceans. What better day to send them back to the big blue than on World Oceans Day?”
Small photo: A typical New England coastline, West Haven, Conn., Laurie Wiegler; Large photo: a Kemp's ridley sea turtle, rescued by The Florida Aquarium and set free on World Oceans Day. Photo used with permission from TFA.

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