The Gulfarium's C.A.R.E. Center successfully released three rehabilitated sea turtles on Friday morning, Nov. 13, 2020 at Topsail Hill Preserve State Park off of West County Highway 30A.
It was a beautiful morning as the Gulfarium C.A.R.E. Center released some of its recent patients.
"It is always so rewarding when we release the sea turtles back into the Gulf," states Patrick Berry, Director of the Gulfarium C.A.R.E. Center. "All species of sea turtle are endangered so we are passionate about doing everything we can to help these animals. I am proud of our team and their commitment to give sea turtles second chances."
The first turtle to be released was Jokerface, a juvenile green sea turtle weighing 13.2lbs, who was hooked at Navarre Beach Fishing Pier by a circle hook in its mouth on Nov. 11, 2020. The hook was carefully removed after arrival at the C.A.R.E. Center and radiographs showed no other ingested foreign debris. The turtle's bloodwork was unremarkable and it was immediately cleared for release. This green sea turtle had been previously caught at Navarre Pier on Sept. 29, 2020, with a circle hook in the front right flipper and was released at Camp Helen State Park on Oct. 5.
Bamboo was next to be released back into the Gulf. This juvenile green sea turtle was hooked in the mouth at Navarre Beach Fishing Pier on Nov. 6, 2020. The hook was removed by the C.A.R.E. Center team and, fortunately, radiographs revealed that no foreign debris or fishing gear had been ingested by the turtle so he was also immediately cleared for release. This was Bamboo's second visit to the C.A.R.E. Center as he had previously been hooked at Navarre Beach Fishing Pier on Aug. 6, after having a hook go into his mouth and come out through his ocular cavity. Miraculously, there was no damage to his eye and he was released on Aug. 24, 2020, at Topsail Hill Preserve State Park.
Musubi, a juvenile Kemp's ridley weighing just 5.7lbs was the final turtle to be released. Musubi was found washed ashore in Perdido Key on May 21, 2020 when he weighed a mere 1.9lbs. Musubi was lethargic and had a minor wound to his shell over the right shoulder, as well as an older, superficial wound to the back of his head. During the initial examination, it was noted that the small turtle held its head tilted to the right and radiographs showed pneumonia within the right lung. After providing supportive fluids and antibiotics, the C.A.R.E. Center team tested the turtle’s abilities in the water. This swim test revealed that when placed in water, Musubi was unable to maintain his balance and would begin to circle to the right. This abnormality suggested a lesion to the nervous system which could be caused by trauma, parasites or infectious disease.
"This Kemp's Ridley showed great progress with time," stated Terra Throgmorton, Gulfarium's Medical and Stranding Coordinator. "His case of pneumonia resolved following antibiotics and his swimming skills in the rehabilitation habitat improved significantly. After a recent recheck exam, our veterinarian cleared Musubi for release and he was given a microchip which will allow future identification. We will miss this little turtle, but we are happy he can be released back into his natural habitat."
If you see a sea turtle in distress, injured, or deceased please report it to Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission immediately at 1-888-404-FWCC (1-888-404-3922).
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The Gulfarium CARE Foundation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit, is proud to act as a beacon for coastal conservation through marine animal rescue and rehabilitation. Donations are tax-deductible and can be made online on the C.A.R.E. Center's page.