MIAMI — More than 200 sea turtles were able to head home Wednesday thanks to the help of the U.S. Coast Guard and Gumbo Limbo Sea Turtle Rehabilitation Center.
The two teams took the Green, Loggerhead and Hawksbill sea turtles about 10 miles off the Fort Lauderdale coast to be released. Each turtle received hospital care during the pandemic at one of many east coast facilities prior to release.
"Since the pandemic, we've had a hard time finding volunteers to assist us with sea turtle releases," said Whitney Crowder, the sea turtle rehabilitation coordinator with Gumbo Limbo Nature Center. "But the Coast Guard hasn't said no yet."
The Coast Guard says it likes helping and finds it as a release for its crew members from their daily routine.
"Station Fort Lauderdale takes pride in our duty to ensure our country’s protected marine species are provided the necessary resources to help their population recover to healthy, sustainable levels, which includes our sea turtle population," said Lt. Raymond Milne, commanding officer, Station Fort Lauderdale.
"The crew especially enjoys the living marine resource mission and finds these releases help balance the rigors of their everyday routine."
During nesting season, the released turtles journeyed from their nest to the ocean but were sadly washed back at just weeks to several months old.
According to a press release, when a turtle is blown back to shore, that is an indication that something is wrong. They could have injuries and are often emaciated once found ashore.
To help get the tiny reptiles back to health, a rehabilitation center hydrates them with fluids, allows them to rest and feeds them until they are strong enough to be released back to their habitat/
"Many of these turtles do not make it due to various obstacles they need to overcome, which is why sea turtles have such large nests," Crowder said.
Here's how you can help save sea turtles:
- Give them space – remember they are wild animals and enjoy from a distance.
- Call for help if you think the turtle is injured.
- Take your time – boat safely.
- Be environmental stewards.
Before handling a sea turtle you should call FWC’s wildlife hotline at 1-888-404-FWCC.