New Orleans,
22
September
2016
|
08:53 PM
America/Chicago

Injured Sea Turtle Rehabilitated and Released Back into the Gulf of Mexico

Audubon Nature Institute working to save Animals from Extinction

Summary

Audubon Nature Institute, in coordination with the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF), released a rehabilitated green sea turtle into the Gulf of Mexico from Port Fourchon, La., on September 21, 2016.

Audubon Nature Institute, in coordination with the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF), released a rehabilitated green sea turtle into the Gulf of Mexico from Port Fourchon, La., on September 21, 2016.

On April 25, 2015, biologists from LDWF and staff from Audubon Nature Institute responded to the report of a turtle having difficulty swimming in Leeville, La., in Lafourche Parish.

“The turtle was having buoyancy control issues making it difficult to dive down for food,” said Audubon’s Coastal Wildlife Network Stranding Coordinator Gabriella Vazquez. “It was determined that because he was having difficulty with buoyancy control the turtle needed to be transported to Freeport-McMoRan Audubon Species Survival Center (FMASSC) in New Orleans for treatment.”

Following a full exam by Audubon veterinary staff, it became evident that the turtle suffered blunt force trauma and fractures were most likely caused by a boat strike.

Nicknamed “Bubba” by Audubon animal care staff, the turtle received antibiotics, fluids and rest. CT scans were completed to reveal multiple injuries including a pelvic fracture which had caused the buoyancy issues.

“Weight pouches were designed by staff to counterbalance the buoyancy issues while he healed,” said Vazquez. “They were made from a marine-type vinyl and were fixed to the turtle using epoxy and Velcro. The pouches had three pockets, giving us the ability to add or subtract weight easily.”

After approximately two weeks, the posterior portion of Bubba’s shell was no longer floating up. The turtle was moved to a larger space at the FMASSC for the past year to heal from his multiple injuries.

LDWF leads the response for sea turtle and marine mammal strandings. The Coastal Wildlife Network (CWN), coordinated by Audubon Nature Institute, serves as the primary response partner to collect data about existing animal populations along Louisiana’s coast and waterways and to assist and support researchers in conservation of marine species. CWN is the only entity in the state of Louisiana allowed to rehabilitate sea turtles and marine mammals. CWN has rescued more than 200 sea turtles since 2010.

Gabriella Vazquez, Audubon Coastal Wildlife Network Stranding and Rescue Coordinator
 “It’s because of members of the public calling CWN about marine mammals they see in distress that days like this can happen. Anytime CWN gets to rescue, rehabilitate, and release a federally protected sea turtle back into its natural environment, it is a great day for us and the turtle.”
Gabriella Vazquez, Audubon Coastal Wildlife Network Stranding and Rescue Coordinator

The public can contact LDWF’s stranding hotline at (337) 962-7092 or Audubon Coastal Wildlife at (504) 235-3005 if they encounter an injured or stranded (live or dead) marine mammal or sea turtle. The public can also report marine mammal strandings through NOAA's Dolphin & Whale 911 smartphone app for (http://1.usa.gov/1b1kqfv).

Audubon Nature Institute

Audubon Nature Institute operates a family of museums, parks and research facilities dedicated to celebrating the wonders of nature. Through innovative live animal exhibits, education programs, and scientific discovery, Audubon makes a meaningful contribution to preserving wildlife for the future. Audubon Nature Institute flagships include Audubon Park, Audubon Zoo, Audubon Aquarium of the Americas, Entergy Giant Screen Theater, Audubon Butterfly Garden and Insectarium, Audubon Center for the Research of Endangered Species, Freeport-McMoRan Audubon Special Survival Center, Woldenberg Riverfront Park and Audubon Wilderness Park.