Scientists release the first rescued, rehabilitated sea turtles back into the Gulf
Wednesday, August 18, 2010
Media contact: Kim Amendola, NOAA 727-403-6533; Connie Barclay, NOAA 202-441-2398; Karen Parker, FWC 386-867-0516
NOAA administrator Dr. Jane Lubchenco and Adm. Thad
Allen joined state, federal, and partner biologists today as they
released 23 Kemp's ridley sea turtles back into the Gulf of Mexico
near Cedar Key, Fla., after the turtles were successfully rescued
and rehabilitated from the effects of the Deepwater Horizon/BP oil
Scientists selected the area on Florida's Gulf
coast for release because it is an important foraging area for the
species, the water was never oiled, and the habitat provides
everything these turtles need for survival.
"I'm pleased that Admiral Allen and I were able to
assist with the release of these turtles. And we thank all of our
partners in this rescue and rehabilitation effort," said Dr.
Lubchenco. "This is a wonderful day for all involved--but
especially for the turtles."
"This area near Cedar Key provides excellent
habitat for Kemp's ridley sea turtles and has long been known as an
important habitat area for this species," said Barbara Schroeder,
NOAA's national sea turtle coordinator. "Thanks to the efforts of
our rescue teams and rehabilitation facility partners all of the
turtles we released today have an excellent chance of surviving in
the wild and contributing to the recovery of this species."
The turtles released today were rescued by teams
from NOAA and Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission
working with partners from the Riverhead Foundation and the
In-Water Research Group. The turtles received excellent treatment
and care, including cleaning and de-oiling, at the Audubon Aquarium
in New Orleans, and at Gulf World in Panama City, Fla. The turtles
were then cared for by SeaWorld Orlando, Mote Marine Laboratory,
and the Florida Aquarium. To date, approximately 500 live turtles
have been rescued during the Gulf oil spill, and more than 450
stranded or captured turtles have had visible evidence of external
oil. Approximately 350 turtles are still in rehabilitation
facilities and will be released as they are given clean bills of
"It's wonderful news that sea turtles hurt by the
Deepwater Horizon spill are now rehabilitated and ready to go home
to the Gulf of Mexico," said Sen. Bill Nelson of Florida. "This is
a testament to the hard work of fish and wildlife agencies and our
wildlife rescue and rehabilitation centers."
"This is a great day for our biologists since many
of these turtles were originally rescued by our staff," said Gil
McRae, director of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation
Commission's Fish and Wildlife Research Institute. "Everyone
involved has worked hard to ensure that these endangered turtles
are returned to the wild so they can contribute to the overall
NOAA's mission is to understand and predict changes
in the Earth's environment, from the depths of the ocean to the
surface of the sun, and to conserve and manage our coastal and
marine resources. Visit us at http://www.noaa.gov or on Facebook
For more information on FWC sea turtle
conservation, visit http://www.MyFWC.com/SeaTurtle.
Detailed fact sheet on Kemp's ridley sea turtles and today's
video will be available after 4:00 p.m. EDT.