Audubon Coastal Wildlife Network Releases Nine Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtles
After months of recovery, nine critically endangered Kemp’s ridley sea turtles are now back home in the Gulf of Mexico. The turtles were released this week by Audubon Coastal Wildlife Network in Grand Isle, Louisiana.
Kemp’s ridley sea turtles are the smallest and most endangered species of sea turtle. These turtles were part of a large cold-stunning event along the New England coast and were taken to Audubon’s Aquatic Center at the Freeport-McMoRan Audubon Species Survival Center for treatment and rehabilitation. Based on their size, all were estimated to be between two and four years old. After months of recovery, each turtle was carefully released back to their native habitat by Coastal Wildlife Network staff.
These sea turtles suffered from chronic cold stunning after staying in coastal waters off Massachusetts too late into the season. Symptoms of cold-stunning can include decreased heart and respiration rates, decreased circulation, and lethargy. It can cause the turtles to float on the surface where they can suffer further cold conditions and develop shock and pneumonia.
“These nine are the first of a large group of Kemp’s ridley sea turtles we have treated this year. It is tremendously rewarding to see them swim back into the Gulf of Mexico,” said Audubon Marine Mammal and Sea Turtle Stranding, Rescue, and Rehab Coordinator Gabriella Harlamert. The remaining turtles need additional time to recover before they can be released.
Coordinated by Audubon Nature Institute, the Coastal Wildlife Network (CWN) is NOAA Fisheries’ primary stranding network response partner for marine mammals (dolphins and whales) and sea turtles in the State of Louisiana. CWN is committed to the humane care and treatment of injured, ill, or displaced marine animals in Louisiana and is the only entity in the state responsible for the rehabilitation of live marine mammals and sea turtles. The information CWN collects from stranded animals provides a snapshot into the health of the marine environment and provides a better understanding of threats to marine mammals and sea turtles in the wild.
The public is advised to report all stranded marine mammals and sea turtles (live or dead) to CWN at 877-942-5343.
When reporting strandings, the public should be prepared to give:
· Exact location and/or GPS coordinates,
· Photographs of the animal, and
· Nature of the report (type of animal/live or dead/size, etc.).
Recommendations when reporting a live stranded animal include:
· Put human safety above animal safety. If conditions are dangerous, do not attempt to approach the animal.
· Keep crowds away and noise levels down to avoid causing stress to the animal.
· Don't push an animal on shore back into the water.
· If the animal returns to the water on its own, don't attempt to interact with it.
· Leave all entanglements that may be present on the animal.
For more information, visit https://audubonnatureinstitute.org/cwn. To donate to CWN and help their efforts to help these endangered animals, visit https://audubontransactions.org/donations/donate-cwn.html.