Rehabilitated, critically-endangered sea turtle released into Gulf of Mexico
NEW ORLEANS - The Audubon Nature Institute, in partnership with the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, rescued, rehabilitated and released a critically-endangered Kemp's ridley sea turtle into the Gulf of Mexico last Wednesday.
On July 15, LDWF was contacted by a concerned family fishing in the Gulf of Mexico at Calcasieu Pass about a turtle stranded on the rock jetties. Staff from Audubon and LDWF biologists rescued the turtle and transported it to Audubon's Aquatic Center in New Orleans for evaluation and treatment.
"He was dehydrated, emaciated, and had a small wound on his head when he first came in," said Audubon Marine Mammal and Sea Turtle Rescue Coordinator Gabriella Vazquez. "He was given a round of antibiotics, fluids, and started feeding right away. He gained four pounds while he was with us and recovered fairly quickly."
The stranded Kemp's ridley turtle, affectionately dubbed "Jitterbug" due a J-shaped mark on his shell, was released off the Louisiana coast near Grand Isle on Sept. 30.
"The release of this endangered sea turtle is just one example of how our efforts can help animals in the wild," said Audubon Nature Institute President and CEO Ron Forman. "Conservation is an important part of Audubon's mission, and we continue to work towards enhancing the care and survival of wildlife."
LDWF Secretary Robert Barham said the department is always eager to be a part of a successful sea turtle release, while noting the importance of LDWF's partnership with the Audubon Nature Institute.
Kemp's ridley sea turtles are one of the most endangered of the sea turtle species. They usually live in sheltered coastal areas including bays, bayous and estuaries. They are also considered the world's smallest sea turtles, usually weighing between 80 and 100 pounds when fully matured.