Posted: Oct 14, 2009 11:30 PM by Matthew Wattigny
Updated: Oct 14, 2009 11:38 PM
Source: LA Dept. of Wildlife & Fisheries
State wildlife agents returned a 90-pound sea turtle to the Gulf of Mexico Wednesday, after it spent months in a land-locked pond in southwest Louisiana.
The Kemp's ridley sea turtle was released about 20 miles off the coast of Grand Isle. The 4-1/2-foot-long adult female seemed at home in the open water. "When you blinked your eyes, she was gone," said Adam Einck, a spokesman for the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries. He said the turtle swam toward an oil rig.
The turtle returns to the Gulf with a satellite tag - the black ring visible on her shell in the picture - allowing biologists to follow the turtle's progress. Each time she surfaces, the tag relays a signal to a satellite, which sends her location to a website. You can follow along here. Look under the name "Lagniappe". As of this posting, the turtle's release hasn't been added to the tracking feature.
Her shell is 3 feet across, making her the largest Kemp's ridley rescued since the Louisiana Marine Mammal and Sea Turtle Rescue Program began 10 years ago. The species is the most critically endangered of all sea turtles.
She was likely washed ashore during Hurricane Ike, which struck in Sept. 2008. In January, someone spotted the turtle in a Vermilion Parish pond, where she had a variety of seafood to eat. Biologists with the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries visited the murky pond five times to get a photograph. The turtle was rescued in March with the help of staff from the Aquarium of the Americas in New Orleans.