Releasing Rescued Sea Turtles

Releasing Rescued Sea Turtles

Releasing Rescued Sea Turtles

Rescued February 2010 - Released July 14, 2010

Georgia Aquarium and its Conservation Field Station (GACFS), along with the Georgia Sea Turtle Center, released seven loggerhead sea turtles, along with a green sea turtle, off the beach of Jekyll Island on Wednesday, July 14, 2010. The animals were fitted with scientific satellite tracking devices so their migration, behavior and progress can be tracked to current locations and studied. 

The organizations came to the rescue of the stranded sea turtles, a threatened species, off the coast of North Carolina in February when ocean water temperatures dropped below 50 degrees. The lives of 5,000 sea turtles were threatened in the Southeast - 4,500 in Florida alone. The stranding of these turtles, along with the stranding and beaching of thousands of other aquatic animals, has unfolded to tell a global climate story, showing near-catastrophic results.

"This is an unprecedented wildlife mortality and is borderline catastrophic," said Dr. Gregory Bossart, senior vice president and chief veterinary officer of Georgia Aquarium. "With such extreme changes in our environment, there is growing evidence of global climate change, and unfortunately, wildlife is paying the price. As a steward for conservation and education, our mission is to make a difference in the aquatic community." 

Turtle rehabilitation and rescue facilities all over Florida and the Carolinas rushed to aid the animals and to provide housing, but quickly reached capacity. Georgia Aquarium and the Georgia Sea Turtle Center were contacted by overwhelmed facilities to help care for the stranded animals. Under guarded health status, the animals were transported to Georgia Aquarium's quarantine facility in Atlanta and the Georgia Sea Turtle Center, where staff began treating and monitoring the animals in February 2010. 

"All of the animals came into the facilities with lesions on their shells, heads, flippers and necks. Some even had heavy pitting in their shells, while all were severely underweight and malnourished. Veterinary staff and biologists worked around the clock, tending to wound care, drawing blood, conducting x-rays, providing antibiotic therapy and holding routine exams monitoring body condition over time. Once the staff felt as though the animals exhibited a healthy status, the team began introducing live food into their diets to ensure their natural predatory instincts would again take over once released."

See pictures from the turtle release.