A "krewe" of rehabilitated sea turteles were returned to the wild along the Grand Isle shoreline this week.
On March 15, 2021, 13 of the 28 cold-stunned Kemp’s ridley sea turtles rehabilitated by Audubon’s Coastal Wildlife Network team were released. The endangered turtles arrived at Audubon as part of a massive cold-stunning event along the New England coast in November 2020.
The turtles released on Monday were chosen because of how well they recovered from their medical issues. Audubon’s veterinary team gave each of them a final exit examination to ensure they were ready for release.
The CWN team also had to ensure that the Gulf of Mexico’s water reached a minimum of 60 degrees Fahrenheit before release.
“This is the day we have all been waiting for,” said Audubon Marine Mammal and Sea Turtle Stranding, Rescue, and Rehab Coordinator Gabriella Harlamert. “All the days and nights over the last four months caring for these turtles have all been for this. Getting to return them to the wild is why we do what we do, and it’s the best feeling ever.”
The turtles released were named: Tucks, Rex, Zulu, Thoth, Endymion, Chaos, Themis, Muff-a-lotta, Stomper, Athena, Carrollton, Pandora, and Proteus. In celebration of Carnival season, Audubon's rescued sea turtles were named after iconic Mardi Gras krewes and marching groups.
The turtles not in the first release will remain at Audubon Aquatic Center and continue receiving treatment for pneumonia and injuries of varying degrees of severity.
The remaining turtles to be released include Bacchus, Orpheus, Muses, Chewbacchus, Okeanos, Atlas, Argus, Nymph, Vieux, Pete Fountain, Siren, St. Aug, Iris, Babylon, and Fleurs.
Of the 30 cold-stunned turtles sent to Audubon for rehabilitation, two were lost due to infection and pneumonia. The Audubon Institute says that it is common among cold-stunned turtles, they are hopeful that the entire Krewe will be out parading in the wild soon enough.
Coordinated by Audubon Nature Institute, CWN serves as NOAA Fisheries' primary marine mammal and sea turtle stranding network partner in Louisiana.
The public is advised to report all stranded marine mammals and sea turtles (live or dead) to CWN at (504) 235-3005.
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.
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