SeaWorld Orlando Returns 75 Sea Turtles to Waters Offshore Jupiter, Fla.
September 11, 2013 (Orlando, Fla.) – SeaWorld Orlando’s Animal Rescue Team returned 75 sea turtle hatchlings to waters off Florida’s east coast today. Ten green, three hawksbills, 61 loggerheads and one leatherback were transported by the Republic VII to a “weed line” about 14 miles offshore Jupiter, Fla.
A weed line is made up of sargassum sea weed grass and acts as protection and a source of food for the young turtles during the first two years of life.
Three of the 74 hatchlings had been receiving care at SeaWorld Orlando for the past several months. These hawksbill hatchlings were found by beachcombers and had likely been washed on shore due to harsh sea conditions. SeaWorld’s Animal Care Team assisted in providing medical and rehabilitative care, including feeding assistance, antibiotic treatment and radiographs, prior to today’s return.
Other juvenile turtles being returned today:
· Nineteen hatchlings – 18 loggerheads and one leatherback – had been receiving care at the Volusia County Marine Science Center
. The rare leatherback hatchling was brought to the facility after being found near New Smyrna Beach, Fla., with a severe curvature and inability to reach the sea on its own. The center provided medical care, including fluid injections and feeding assistance, for a few weeks until it was healthy enough to swim properly. Two of the eighteen loggerheads were brought in after being washed back to shore and the rest were newly hatched turtles that never made it back to the water on their own.
· Ten green and forty three loggerhead hatchlings had been receiving care at the Loggerhead Marine Life Center.
These young turtles never made it to the water after hatching and were recovered by beachcombers near Juno, Fla.
One by one, each turtle was carefully placed in the water near the sargassum sea weed line. Young turtles spend the two years of their life in the weed line. Jellyfish could be seen near the weed line, which are a main source of food for leatherbacks and can be a secondary source of food for other sea turtles as well.
Each turtle’s health was evaluated and all were medically cleared prior to today’s return.
In collaboration with the government and other members of accredited stranding networks, SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment operates one of the world’s most respected programs to rescue ill and injured marine animals, with the goal to rehabilitate and return to the waters. SeaWorld animal experts have helped more than 22,000 animals in need - ill, injured, orphaned and abandoned - for more than four decades. So far this year, SeaWorld Orlando has rescued 52 turtles and returned 47, not including today’s return.
All turtle rescue footage produced by SeaWorld under FWS Permit Number MA7701911