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Posts Tagged ‘endangered sea turtles’

Rescued, Rehabilitated, and Released

Posted by Jody on September 11, 2018

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Biloxi, Mississippi – Between the Beau Rivage Resort and the I-110 Loop Walk

Yesterday afternoon, we were excited to be able to attend the release of nine rescued Kemp’s ridley sea turtles. Kemp’s ridley are the rarest and most critically endangered sea turtles in the world. They are also the smallest of the eight species of sea turtles, growing to about two feet in length and weighing up to about one hundred pounds at maturity. Apparently, they are somewhat common in the northern Gulf of Mexico and the Mississippi Sound. We certainly had no idea!

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Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtle

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Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtle

A story on the local news had let the public know that we were invited to attend the release of these nine rescued and rehabilitated critters. The fine folks at The Institute for Marine Mammal Studies (based in Gulfport, Mississippi) had rescued the rare Kemp’s ridley sea turtles from fishermen’s hooks along the Mississippi Coast. Fish hooks were surgically removed at IMMS by the veterinary staff and the nine patients were treated and monitored until they were deemed healthy enough to be safely returned to their natural habitat.

Thank goodness our numerous fishing piers are all signed with instructions and emergency 24-hour hotline phone numbers for those who accidentally hook sea turtles while they are out enjoying a lovely day on the coast. ~ How awful it must be to find a sea turtle has attached itself to your line!

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Instructions for Fishermen

The institute’s staff explained that, judging by their their size, these sea turtles were perhaps between two and five years old. The juveniles were not yet old enough for experts to be able to determine if they were males or females. Sadly, two of them had been hooked previously and had already spent some time at the research facility.

While we waited, the nine newly healthy sea turtles were brought one by one to the roped off staging area in individual plastic bins. Quite active and raring to go, they were sprayed down to keep them cool until the set release time. At 4:30 sharp, Biloxi’s Mayor FoFo Gilich was handed one of the lucky turtles and instructed on how to hold, carry, and then release the first sea turtle back into the Mississippi Sound.

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Biloxi’s Mayor FoFo Gilich Getting Instructions

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Biloxi’s Mayor Delivering Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtle to the Mississippi Sound

One by one, the turtles were released back into the water.

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There goes another!

And, one by one, they headed straight back into the Mississippi Sound!

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Last  but not least!

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The Ninth Turtle is Released

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Safe and Sound into the Mississippi Sound!

We are so grateful that the Institute for Marine Mammal Studies invited the public to witness such a wonderful event! It was a fabulous way to spend the afternoon for us  –  and most certainly – for the sea turtles!

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Rescued, Rehabilitated, and Released!

 

Here are a few helpful links if you’d like to learn more about Kemp’s ridley sea turtles:

The Institute for Marine Mammal Studies

Sea Turtle Inc.

US Fish and Wildlife Service

National Wildlife Federation

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Home Sweet Home for our Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtles

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Posted in Gulf of Mexico Beaches, Sea Turtles | Tagged: , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

“NOAA designates additional critical habitat for leatherback sea turtles off West Coast”

Posted by Jody on January 25, 2012

Here’s some great news for leatherback sea turtles!

This month, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) announced the designation of two distinct areas, totaling approximately 41,914 square miles, of marine habitat along the United States’ West Coast as additional critical habitat for leatherback sea turtles (Dermochelys coriacea).  Taking effect on February 16, 2011, this ruling provides federal protection in crucial feeding grounds for the endangered leatherbacks in specified regions of the Pacific Ocean off the coasts of Washington, Oregon, and California.

Leatherback Sea Turtle (Photo by Scott R. Benson, NMFS Southwest Fisheries Science Center)

According to NOAA’s website, “This designation will not directly affect recreational fishing, boating and other private activities in critical habitat. Critical habitat designations only affect federal projects that have the potential to adversely modify or destroy critical habitat. Critical habitat designations aid the recovery of endangered and threatened species by protecting habitat that the species rely on.”

Leatherbacks are the most migratory and wide ranging of all the sea turtles.  After swimming great distances across the Pacific Ocean, from their Indonesian nesting grounds, these well-known world travelers forage in U.S. coastal waters for their preferred delicacy, jellyfish. Yummy!

Leatherback Sea Turtle (Photo by Scott R. Benson, NMFS Southwest Fisheries Science Center)

These giants of the sea can grow to lengths of 6 1/2 feet and weigh up to 2,000 pounds.  “The leatherback sea turtle, the largest marine turtle in the world, has been listed as endangered since 1970. Leatherbacks have the largest range of any living reptile and occur throughout the oceans of the world. They feed primarily on jellyfish and lay their eggs on tropical and subtropical beaches. Although very little is known about their lifespan, biologists estimate leatherbacks can live for 45 years or more. (NOAA)

Are you looking for a good read to place on the bedside table? You might consider the 114 page ruling: “Endangered and Threatened Species: Final Rule to Revise the Critical Habitat Designation for the Endangered Leatherback Sea Turtle.”  I was relatively impressed with its “plain English” style. No kidding!

Bon Appetit!

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Posted in Beach and Coastal Wildlife, Sea Turtles | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Can Jellyfish Mean Good News? Sea Turtle Update

Posted by Jody on November 27, 2011

Can jellyfish blooms mean good news?  Maybe not if you are a swimmer… but it you are a critically endangered Leatherback Sea Turtle, come and get it!

Leatherback Turtle by Haeckel (PD-US / Wikimedia Commons)

The Orlando Sentinal reports: Jellyfish may be helping leatherback sea turtles make a comeback, “It’s the annual bane of beachgoers: massive “blooms” of jellyfish. This past summer, when the blooms hit Volusia and Brevard counties, thousands of ocean swimmers felt their sting.

“But researchers say the very creatures that are such a nuisance to people could be fueling the comeback of one of Florida’s endangered species: the leatherback sea turtle.” Read more in the Orlando Sentinal article.

For more information on the Leatherback Sea Turtle, the Earth’s largest living sea turtle: Endangered Leatherback Sea Turtles Feasting in British Waters

And for more on jellyfish: What Exactly is a Jellyfish Anyway?

Posted in Beach and Coastal Wildlife, Sea Turtles | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Endangered Leatherback Sea Turtles Feasting in British Waters

Posted by Jody on August 29, 2011

Critically endangered leatherback sea turtles are heading north for dinner!  These massive creatures, the largest of the living sea turtles, don’t mind traveling great distances in the open ocean to feast on the increasing number of jellyfish in the waters of the United Kingdom. Jellyfish are the main staple of the leatherback sea turtle diet.  The record number of jellyfish in the seas surrounding the British Isles has led to a record number of leatherback sea turtle sightings this year.  The non-stinging barrel jellyfish, commonly found in British waters, can grow to over three feet across and weigh up to 88 pounds! (1 meter across & 40 kilos) I wonder if that’s just a little mid-morning snack for a male leatherback sea turtle, who can grow to over 8 feet in length and weigh nearly one ton.

Leatherback Sea Turtle (Photo: NOAA, from Wikimedia Commons)

Leatherback Sea Turtle (Photo: NOAA, from Wikimedia Commons)

There is a wonderful news story on these endangered leatherback sea turtles (and prey) at channel4.com.  It comes complete with a really interesting video from London’s Independent  Channel 4 News Science Correspondent Tom Clare. You’ll definitely want to check it out!

For more information, the US Fish and Wildlife Service has an educational  leatherback sea turtle fact sheet.  The fact sheet includes the description, range, and habitat of the leatherback sea turtle, along with other interesting information, including the following section on their current status: “Reasons For Current Status: The crash of the Pacific leatherback population, once the world’s largest population, is believed primarily to be the result of exploitation by humans for the eggs and meat, as well as incidental take in numerous commercial fisheries of the Pacific. Other factors threatening leatherbacks globally include loss or degradation of nesting habitat from coastal development; disorientation of hatchlings by beachfront lighting; excessive nest predation by native and non-native predators; degradation of foraging habitat; marine pollution and debris; and watercraft strikes.”

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Posted in Beaches of Great Britain and Ireland, Monday Miscellaneous, Sea Turtles | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

 
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