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Sea Turtle Release in Florida



Yesterday August 18th NOAA and their partners released the first batch of rehabilitated sea turtles that were impacted by the Deepwater Horizon/BP oil spill in the Gulf.

We released 23 Kemp’s ridley sea turtles back into the Gulf of Mexico near Cedar Key, Fla.  All had passed their health assessments and were strong enough to go back to their natural environment.

We are really pleased that the turtles we’ve rescued, or that we found stranded since the oil spill started in April, have done well in rehabilitation so far. There are just over 300 turtles in rehabilitation at our partner facilities from Louisiana through Florida.   These turtles will be released in the coming weeks.

There are many organizations and individuals that have been working with us to rescue, rehabilitate, transport and study sea turtles impacted by the BP oil spill, and we recognize and acknowledge their incredible efforts.  Key partners include the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Audubon Aquarium, Gulf World, Riverhead Foundation, and the In-Water Research Group.  

I wanted to share with you some photos of yesterday’s event.  Dr. Lubchenco and Admiral Thad Allen accompanied the release team and helped return them to the Gulf of Mexico.  This was a wonderful event for all of the dedicated individuals who have worked so hard for the turtles.  

NOAA Fisheries scientists will continue to work with our partners to document and rescue stranded and oiled turtles, with the goal of rehabilitating and releasing as many of them back into the ocean as possible. We are seeing fewer heavily oiled turtles in these surveys and are able, in many cases, to clean and check the turtles and return them immediately to the Gulf.
Background on sea turtles in the Gulf

Sea turtles, as air-breathing reptiles, inhabit tropical, subtropical, and temperate oceanic and nearshore waters throughout the world.  They are capable of migrating long distances between foraging grounds and nesting beaches.  Although they live most of their lives in the ocean, adult females must return to beaches to lay their eggs.

Five species of endangered and threatened sea turtles inhabit the Gulf of Mexico -- Kemp’s Ridley, green, hawksbill, leatherback and loggerhead. Major threats to sea turtles in the United States include incidental capture in commercial and recreational fisheries; destruction and alteration of nesting and foraging habitats; entanglement in marine debris; and vessel strikes.