Cold-Stunned Rescue Sea Turtles Released Into the Gulf of Mexico After Months of Rehabilitation

Over a dozen endangered sea turtles were recently released back into the wild in Louisiana after spending months rehabilitating with the Audubon Nature Institute's Coastal Wildlife Network (CWN) team.

According to a press release from the institute, 28 Kemp's ridley sea turtles arrived at Audubon in November as part of a rescue effort following a "massive cold-stunning event" along the New England coast. The turtles have been monitored closely by CWN and recently received examinations by the team's veterinarian to see if they were ready for release.

13 of 28 sea turtles were deemed ready for life in the wild, and, on Monday, these turtles were released into the Gulf of Mexico along the Grand Isle shoreline by CWN staff members.

Before releasing the turtles into the Gulf of Mexico, CWN made sure the water was at least 60 degrees Fahrenheit.

"This is the day we have all been waiting for," Gabriella Harlamert, Audubon's marine mammal and sea turtle stranding, rescue, and rehab coordinator, said in a statement. "All the days and nights over the last four months caring for these turtles have all been for this. Getting to return them to the wild is why we do what we do, and it's the best feeling ever." 

The names of the 13 turtles released into the wild are Tucks, Rex, Zulu, Thoth, Endymion, Chaos, Themis, Muff-a-lotta, Stomper, Athena, Carrollton, Pandora, and Proteus.

Meanwhile, the 15 other sea turtles from the New England rescue will remain at Audubon Aquatic Center until they are healthy enough to be released. Those turtles are named: Bacchus, Orpheus, Muses, Chewbacchus, Okeanos, Atlas, Argus, Nymph, Vieux, Pete Fountain, Siren, St. Aug, Iris, Babylon, and Fleurs.

According to the CWN, the rescued turtles were named after iconic Mardi Gras krewes and marching groups.

The CWN is coordinated by Audubon Nature Institute and serves as National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fisheries' primary marine mammal and sea turtle stranding network partner in Louisiana.

According to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), nearly all sea turtle species are listed as endangered. Of the seven species, three are considered critically endangered.

A sea turtle's main threats in the wild are habitat destruction, climate change, and accidental capture — known as bycatch — in fishing gear in the ocean.

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