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Sunday, June 23, 2024

Georgia simply made historical past with the state’s largest-ever launch of endangered sea turtles


Earlier this week, 34 turtles made historical past within the state of Georgia.

On Wednesday, conservationists and marine biologists marked their largest sea turtle launch on state file, as 33 Kemp’s ridley turtles and one inexperienced sea turtle have been launched off of Jekyll Island.

However these turtles aren’t native Southerners; they have been introduced from quite a few aquariums up north: New England Aquarium and the New York Marine Rescue Heart in New York, Mystic Aquarium in Connecticut, and Atlantic Marine Conservation Society in Boston.

The New England Aquarium known as it a “outstanding cross-organization collaboration,” that includes the assistance of Turtles Fly Too, a company that transports endangered sea turtles to new places.

Volunteers unload a truck full of boxes containing sea turtles at the Georgia Sea Turtle Center
Picture courtesy of Turtles Fly Too

These 34 turtles had beforehand spent the previous few months at these aquariums, present process take care of hypothermia-related situations, like pneumonia, dehydration, and trauma, in line with a press launch from the New England Aquarium.

This occurs each fall and winter, as a whole bunch of cold-stunned sea turtles — a lot of that are endangered Kemp’s ridley turtles — wash up on the seashores of Cape Cod

With quickly altering temperatures, many turtles wrestle to flee Cape Cod Bay earlier than succumbing to hypothermia. Thankfully, turtle-loving workers and volunteers patrol these seashores to assist transport stranded turtles to aquariums, taking them in for months of rehab. 

“It was so rewarding to have this group of sea turtles launched on Jekyll Island after being nursed again to well being by the New England Aquarium and our accomplice organizations,” Adam Kennedy, director of rescue and rehabilitation on the New England Aquarium, mentioned in a press release.

“These turtles that stranded late final yr have actually obtained great care and are absolutely recovered as we ship them again residence.” 

Two Kemp's ridley sea turtles sit in cardboard boxes on a sandy beach
Picture courtesy of Turtles Fly Too

Eleven of the turtles got here from the New England Aquarium, together with some crowd favorites named Mulberry, Mayflower, and Delphinium. 

The hassle was coordinated by the Georgia Sea Turtle Heart at Jekyll Island. Moreover, dozens of workers members from the businesses concerned got here to help the challenge and cheer on the turtles as they have been carried into the nice and cozy ocean waters. 

“Our waters are simply now heat sufficient that we are able to launch animals,” Rachel Overmeyer, the rehabilitation program supervisor on the Georgia Sea Turtle Heart advised WJCL Information

“Releases are simply so particular as a result of it is what we put our blood, sweat and tears into, and it is what we do day-after-day. It’s what we work for. So to have the ability to see them launched is admittedly thrilling.”

A Kemp's ridley sea turtle peaks its nose out of a cardboard box in Georgia
Picture courtesy of Turtles Fly Too

Not solely is it thrilling to see a crew of turtles return to their rightful residence below the ocean, but it surely’s thrilling as a result of the Kemp’s ridley turtle is the most endangered turtle species on the planet, in line with Oceana. 

“The rehabilitation and launch of only one critically endangered Kemp’s ridley sea turtle can have a big impact on the inhabitants,” mentioned Sarah Callan, supervisor of Mystic Aquarium’s Animal Rescue Program, in a press release. “We’re grateful to play a component within the vital conservation efforts for this species.”

Along with this annual effort to rescue, rehabilitate, and launch these uncommon reptiles, the New England Aquarium, the Nationwide Aquarium, and the South Carolina Aquarium are working with quite a few congressional representatives on a bipartisan invoice known as the Sea Turtle Rescue Help Act

“Whereas all six species of sea turtles discovered within the U.S. are protected below the Endangered Species Act, there’s little federal help straight out there to organizations engaged in conservation efforts,” a press launch from the New England Aquarium defined. 

“The invoice would assist establishments proceed to supply the rescue, rehabilitation, and analysis wanted to assist these animals.”

Two women release a sea turtle into the ocean
Picture courtesy of Turtles Fly Too

Whereas these 34 turtles are emblematic of a significant victory off of Georgia’s shores, specialists hope they’re additionally indicative of a extra proactive future for sea turtles throughout the nation.

Michelle Kaylor, director of the Georgia Sea Turtle Heart mentioned: “By way of collaborative efforts, we are able to make sure the profitable rehabilitation and return of those magnificent creatures to their pure habitats, safeguarding their future for generations to return.”

Header picture courtesy of Turtles Fly Too

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