On Feb. 1, Mote Marine Laboratory released eight Kemp’s ridley sea turtles from Mote’s Sea Turtle Rehabilitation Hospital. These turtles, plus a ninth Kemp’s and one green sea turtle still at Mote, came to Florida on Dec. 8 as part of a team effort to rehabilitate 46 cold-stunned turtles initially brought to the New England Aquarium (NEAQ) in Quincy, Massachusetts.
The 46 turtles traveled by private jet from NEAQ to four Florida facilities: Mote, Clearwater Marine Aquarium, Florida Aquarium and Sea World Orlando. Mote staff provided personalized care for its 10 patients, including food, fluids and antibiotics administered through injection and eye drops.
After nearly two months of treatment, eight of Mote’s 10 turtles were medically cleared for release. On Feb. 1, Mote staff transported the turtles to New Smyrna Beach on Florida’s east coast and successfully returned them to the sea. Before release, Mote staff and interns fitted each sea turtle with a passive integrated transponder (PIT) tag, which gives the turtle a unique barcode identification number similar to microchips in household pets.
“It is always our objective to rehabilitate as quickly and safely as possible so that these animals can return to their natural environment,” said Lynne Byrd, Mote’s Rehabilitation and Medical Care Coordinator. “Sea turtles are resilient creatures and this group has responded well to treatment. We look forward to releasing the remaining two turtles from the original 10 in the near future.”
Mote’s Sea Turtle Rehabilitation Hospital provides state-of-the-art critical care and chronic care for several species of stranded sea turtles. The primary mission of the hospital is to rehabilitate these animals and return them to the wild, while expanding knowledge of the biology, disease processes and veterinary care of these animals.
Did you know?
Mote's Stranding Investigations Program and Sea Turtle Rehabilitation Hospital have responded to more than 1,400 sea turtle strandings. Since 2010, Mote has received an average of more than 600 calls per year and responded to and recovered a total of 620 stranded sea turtles.
Please report distressed or dead sea turtles and marine mammals.
Mote's Sea Turtle Conservation and Research Program monitors sea turtle nesting from Longboat Key through Venice, and Mote's Stranding Investigations Program responds to reports of sick, injured or dead marine mammals and sea turtles in Sarasota and Manatee counties.
To report issues with sea turtle nests, nesting turtles or hatchlings (babies) from Longboat Key through Venice (such as disoriented hatchlings or storm-damaged nests), please call Mote's Sea Turtle Conservation and Research Program at 941-388-4331.
- Within Sarasota or Manatee county waters, if you see a stranded or dead sea turtle, dolphin or whale, please call Mote's Stranding Investigations Program, a 24-hour response service, at (941) 988-0212.
- If you see a stranded or dead manatee anywhere in state waters or a stranded or dead sea turtle, dolphin or whale outside of Sarasota and Manatee counties, please call the FWC Wildlife Alert hotline at 1 (888) 404-FWCC (3922).
Learn more about the Kemp's ridley sea turtle, the world's smallest sea turtle species.