The SeaWorld Orlando Animal Rescue Team returned another wave of 12 Kemp’s ridley sea turtles and one loggerhead sea turtle to the warm Florida waters by Canaveral National Seashore this morning at approximately 9:30 a.m.
The 12 Kemp’s ridley turtles returned were part of the 72 sea turtles that were rescued last November during a mass cold stranding off the Massachusetts coast. They were transferred to SeaWorld Orlando from the New England Aquarium by the U.S. Coast Guard for rehabilitation and expert care.
About the Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtles
When the Kemp’s ridley turtles first arrived, they received full veterinary exams and vitamin treatments. Blood work and radiographs were performed to diagnose any further issues. Most of the turtles suffered from pneumonia and were treated with antibiotics and fluid therapy.
Ranging from 3.8 to 8 pounds at the time of rescue, the sea turtles have been eating well and gaining weight since their arrival. The goal is to provide a stable environment for the turtles to regain strength and ultimately be returned back to the wild as soon as possible. Upon return, the 12 Kemp’s Ridley sea turtles’ weights ranged from 5 to 11 pounds.
About the Loggerhead Sea Turtle
The loggerhead sea turtle that was returned this morning was originally found stranded at the St. Lucie Power Plant in Hutchison Island, Fla., on Oct. 27 of last year. The turtle was underweight, covered in barnacles and suffered from debilitated loggerhead syndrome, which is an end stage disease that can be caused by a wide spectrum of conditions. It is characterized by heavy barnacle and algae growth on the shell and skin, and the primary cause is typically masked by parasites, bacterial infections and complications from starvation.
The turtle was transferred to SeaWorld Orlando from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission for immediate care. Upon arrival, the turtle received a full veterinary exam, blood work and antibiotics. Radiographs performed also revealed a slight impaction of shell hash within the digestive tract and medications were provided to help alleviate the impaction.
The turtle received nutritional support through tube feedings and began to eat on its own within the first week. It was treated for parasites, continued to eat well – gaining more than 10 pounds throughout its rehabilitation process – and was medically cleared for return. Upon return, the loggerhead sea turtle weighed 126 pounds.
So far this year, SeaWorld Orlando has rescued 19 sea turtles and returned 26 to the ocean. For more than 50 years, SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment has helped animals in need – ill, injured, orphaned or abandoned, with the goal of returning them to the wild. More than 24,000 animals have been rescued by the expert animal rescue team that is on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.