The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) received a call about a stranded Kemp’s ridley sea turtle (Lepidochelys kempii) from a family fishing in the Lake Charles area of Louisiana. The family was concerned because the turtle had stranded himself on the rock jetties and was not moving. LDWF called the Coastal Wildlife Network’s (CWN) Stranding and Rescue Program to pick up the sea turtle for rehabilitation. Strandings are unpredictable and can happen at any time as CWN staff met with LDWF biologist to transfer the turtle over around 10 pm at night! Upon visual assessment the turtle was deemed healthy enough for transport and receiving a more in-depth assessment the following morning. Initial work ups included blood work, x-rays, behavioral observations, measurements, weights and fluids. Initially he showed no interest in eating but after a couple of days he began eating food offered to him.
Eventually, CWN staff took to calling him “Jitterbug” due to the “J” shaped marking he had on his shell. Jitterbug was moved to a deepwater floating pen where he could freely dive down for food. After a couple of months in rehabilitation it was determined that Jitterbug was healthy enough to be released back into the Gulf of Mexico. Kemp’s ridley sea turtles are critically endangered making this release even more special. Jitterbug was released on September 30th, 2015.
If you see a sick or injured marine mammal or sea turtle call the CWN Stranding Hotline at 504-235-3005.