Loggerheads released in FL while belugas wait for what’s next

Today the Marine Science Center in Ponce Inlet, FL released 3 loggerhead turtles: Seymore, Parker and Zee.  All were rescued from area beaches in the beginning of May.

I had the opportunity to visit the turtle rescue at Marine Science Center at the end of June to see these 3, and 5 others.  The facility has an impressive set-up to care for these turtles and the volunteers are obviously dedicated to the work they are doing. All the tanks were clean, information is available on the rescue and condition of each turtle and there are pictures on display of other releases.  I vowed that day to be there when the next turtles were released and today was the day.

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(This is a photo of Zee in the rehabilitation center in June)

Seymore was the first turtle to be released.  Seymore was a juvenile loggerhead who had been found severely anemic and emaciated.  After being carried down to the water, he took off with vigor.  He knew he was going home and he was ready!

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Next up was Parker.  Parker had been rescued from New Smyrna beach after being caught by a fishing line with a hook in the corner of his mouth.  He also headed quickly into the water towards freedom.

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Zee, the largest of the three, was the final turtle to be released.  Zee was also anemic and severely emaciated with barnacles and algae covering him.  He was a little more hesitant, but steadily moved towards the water and out to sea, popping his head up a couple times for a peek.

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The turtles are all tagged so that they can be identified in the event that they would be found again, but the facility is not equipped with any tracking device.

Before the turtles arrived at the beach today, me and my scattered brain decided to check email and had received notification of the NOAA denial of the beluga whale import from Russia.  This decision has taken over a year to be finalized, but thankfully it was worth the wait.  Last June, Georgia Aquarium submitted a permit request to have these whales imported to the US and distributed to various marine mammal facilities including SeaWorld and Shedd Aquarium.  After a public hearing and comment period in October, NOAA reviewed the permit and made their decision yesterday to deny the request.

The fate of these whales is now up in the air, presumably to be put up for highest bid to another facility if Georgia Aquarium doesn’t decide to sue or resubmit a new petition.  All eyes will be on the situation to see what happens.

What a great day it has been!

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