Threatened Sea Turtle Rescued, Rehabilitated and Released Back into the Wild
Audubon’s Coastal Wildlife Network partnered with the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, to release a rehabilitated juvenile green sea turtle into Belle Pass out of Port Fourchon, LA on July 9, 2019.
On April 13, 2019, biologists from LDWF contacted CWN about a sea turtle brought to their Grand Isle Research Lab. Rescue staff immediately mobilized to transport the protected species to Audubon’s Aquatic Center at the Freeport-McMoRan Audubon Species Survival Center for treatment.
“When we got the turtle, it was extremely thin and showed signs of malnutrition,” said Audubon’s Rescue and Rehabilitation Coordinator Gabriella Harlamert.
At the Aquatic Center, CWN staff began rehabilitating the turtle dubbed “Hulk” with a full exam to assess health. He was on a plan to ensure he received the appropriate amount of calories and nutrition for his weight were being administered and was given vitamins and calcium supplements to help with shell density.
Hulk showed a healthy increase in weight and appetite at his biweekly physical. After months of close monitoring, an increase in appetite, and healthy weight gain CWN determined that he was successfully rehabilitated and partnered with LDWF to release him back into the wild.
“The rehabilitation and release of Hulk is a great example of the success of the conservation partnership between LDWF and CWN,” said Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Biologist Director Amity Bass.
LDWF leads the response for sea turtle and marine mammal strandings in Louisiana. Coastal Wildlife Network coordinated by Audubon Nature Institute serves as LDWF’s 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.
“Members of the public are truly the eyes and ears for CWN. Without their help, rescuing animals like this wouldn’t be possible,’’ said Harlamert. “Any time CWN gets to rescue, rehabilitate, and release a federally federally-protected sea turtle back into its natural environment, it is a great day for us and the turtle.”
The public can contact Audubon’s Coastal Wildlife Network at (504) 235-3005 if an injured or stranded (live or dead) marine mammal or sea turtle is spotted, LDWF’s stranding hotline at (337) 962-7092 or the public can report marine mammal strandings through NOAA's Dolphin & Whale 911 app (http://1.usa.gov/1b1kqfv).
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 Louisiana Nature Center, Freeport-McMoRan Audubon Species Survival Center, Woldenberg Riverfront Park and Audubon Wilderness Park. Ron Forman is President and CEO of Audubon Nature Institute.