Audubon Nature Institute partnered with the United States Coast Guard (USCG) to release a rehabilitated juvenile green sea turtle into the Gulf of Mexico from Venice, La. on Wednesday, October 5, 2016.
This turtle was brought to the Freeport-McMoRan Audubon Species Survival Center (FMASSC) in New Orleans on May 30, 2016 by a concerned fisherman who found him sluggish and exhausted.
“Upon intake and examination by our animal care staff, the turtle appeared lethargic and was dehydrated,” said Audubon’s Coastal Wildlife Network Stranding Coordinator Gabriella Vazquez. “He was given fluids, antibiotics, and was kept out of the water for the first night for observation.”
Vazquez added, “We dry dock animals that could be compromised if placed in water unsupervised. The following day we had supervised swim time and determined he was strong enough to be in water on his own.”
Nicknamed “Peanut” by Audubon’s animal care staff, the small turtle has grown stronger and larger since arriving for treatment.
Sea turtles go through multiple life stages from hatchling, juvenile, to adulthood. This animal is considered a juvenile and still in the “open ocean” stage.
Due to Peanut’s young age, the release into the Gulf required a location near foraging grounds found in the open ocean and abundant seaweed for cover.
“The Coast Guard remains committed to safeguarding marine protected resources and in this case, partnering with the Audubon Nature Institute to help get Peanut back to his natural habitat,” said Lt. John FitzGerald, USCG spokesperson.
The Coastal Wildlife Network (CWN), coordinated by Audubon Nature Institute, serves as the primary response partner to collect data about existing animal populations along Louisiana’s coast and waterways and to assist and support researchers in conservation of marine species. CWN is the only entity in the state of Louisiana allowed to rehabilitate sea turtles and marine mammals. CWN has rescued more than 200 sea turtles since 2010.
The public can contact Audubon Coastal Wildlife at (504) 235-3005 if they encounter an injured or stranded (live or dead) marine mammal or sea turtle. The public can also report marine mammal strandings through NOAA’s Dolphin & Whale 911 app for smartphones (http://1.usa.gov/1b1kqfv).