Little Lagoon Preservation Society

Little Lagoon Preservation Society News


Sea Turtle Release Monday, October 24th!

The Gulfarium invites public to a sea turtle release Monday, October 24th!

When:  Monday - October 24, 2011
Time: 10:00 a.m.
Where: Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge beach access located at the end of Mobile Street .

A sea turtle that has been rehabilitated by Okaloosa Island’s Gulfarium is set to be released back into the Gulf. The Kemp’s ridley turtle was rescued earlier this year. The Gulfarium staff has named the turtle Mobile St. Molly” during her stay. “Molly,” is a 14-pound Kemp’s ridley.

Report of injuries and rescue

Molly was rescued on the Alabama Gulf Coast May 28, 2011, 200 yards west of Mobile Street boardwalk. The turtle was entangled in several yards of monofilament fishing line. Molly suffered shallow lacerations at the proximal end. Wounds on the anterior sides of both front flippers appeared to be caused by the entangled line.

Rehabilitation

The Gulfarium has a rehabilitation facility for sea turtles. Upon arriving at the Gulfarium, turtles are evaluated by animal care and veterinary staff using guidelines from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. These guidelines give our staff the necessary information needed to evaluate a method for rehabilitation, recovery and release. The Turtle in this release was all given antibiotics, physical therapy and vitamins before being cleared for release by the attending veterinarian.

Gulfarium Sea Turtle Rehabilitation Program

The Gulfarium’s sea turtle rehabilitation program, funded in part by a grant awarded from the Sea Turtle Conservancy as a part of the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation’s Recovered Oil Fund for Wildlife, is open for all species of sea turtles. Ever since the Gulfarium’s founding in 1955 by Brandon “Brandy” Siebenaler, a well-respected marine researcher and graduate of the University of Miami’s Marine Laboratory, the center has been dedicated to the research and preservation of marine life. Show Director Stacy DiDonato, who has been with the Gulfarium since 1998, oversees the sea turtle rehabilitation program. “It’s very rewarding for us to be able to care for these animals and to see them released back into their natural habitat,” said Stacy, who credits Stranded Turtle Coordinator Rachel Cain and her assistant, Lisa Crawford, for being responsible for the everyday care of the animals. “It’s truly an inspiring experience to see these beautiful creatures return home, but it’s bittersweet for the staff. We truly bond with these turtles. It’s sad to see them go, but we are thankful to be able to use our training to save them.”

“The mission of the Gulfarium is to educate, inform and inspire,” said Patrick Berry, general manager of the Gulfarium. “Opening these turtle releases to the public gives us the opportunity to complete our mission. We can educate the public about these majestic sea creatures. The more that people learn about marine life, the more they understand how vitally important the sea turtles’ contribution is to our world. It’s incredibly inspiring and a wonderful experience for all ages.”

The Gulf Coast has several known species of turtles: loggerhead, green, leatherback, hawksbill, Kemp’s ridley, and olive ridley. These species thrive in our Gulf waters. All sea turtles are endangered, federally protected, and should not be handled. To report a stranded turtle in Alabama, call 1-(866)-SEA-TURT (1-866-732-8878), and in Florida, call 1-888-404-FWCC (1-888-404-3922).

More about the Gulfarium: The Gulfarium is located on Okaloosa Island on U.S. Hwy. 98, in Fort Walton Beach. It is the oldest (since 1955) continuously operating show aquarium and marine park in the world Open Daily 9am-2pm. Park Closes at 4pm. Call 850-243-9046, 800-247-8575 or go to www.gulfarium.com

Media Note:  Media are invited to cover this special event that will be held Monday, October 24, 2011 at 10:00 a.m.  Please contact Shelley Yates at (850) 748-9001 for additional information.

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