December 19, 2013

Green Sea Turtle Release on December 17, 2013

Tuesday’s release of a rehabilitated green sea turtle presents a well-timed opportunity for me to make my first blog post and introduce myself to the turtlers of Sanibel and Captiva! My name is Kelly Sloan and I recently replaced Amanda Bryant as the sea turtle program coordinator for Sanibel-Capitva Conservation Foundation. Before coming to Sanibel I worked as a sea turtle biologist for the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources for almost seven years. Releasing a rehabilitated sea turtle was a great welcome to the island!

On November 18, 2013 this 18 kilogram, juvenile green sea turtle was found floating by Red Anders in Pine Island Sound near North Captiva. The turtle was in good physical shape other than a few very small superficial abrasions to the plastron, but because the animal was lethargic and unable to dive, Red and Amanda transported the turtle to the Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife (CROW) on Sanibel. 

Green sea turtle being transported to CROW. Photo by: SCCF

CROW staff members took bloodwork and learned that she was suffering from brevetoxicosis. Brevetoxins are neurotoxins (nerve toxins) produced by the red tide dinoflagellate Karenia brevis and they are known to be toxic to many marine organisms including fish, marine mammals, and sea turtles.  This turtle needed to stay until the toxin was completely out of her system, but she was quickly deemed healthy enough to be transferred from critical care to an outdoor tank. She was even eating and diving like a normal turtle within just a few days of arrival!

Green sea turtle admitted at CROW. Photo by SCCF

Thanks to the dedicated staff at CROW, this turtle was ready for release thirty days after she was admitted. As soon as her bloodwork was normal they tagged her with PIT tags and flipper tags to prepare for her release into the wild. The release team included Red and Kristie Anders, Kat McDonough and Kate Bender (CROW rehabilitators), and myself. 

Leaving the dock to release the rehabilitated sea turtle. Photo by Kristie Anders.

It was a perfect afternoon on the water. No one minded being bounced around a bit on the boat ride out to the release site, which was the same spot that Red originally found her floating a month earlier. We were even greeted by a pod of dolphins right before we sent her on her way.  Red and I had the honor of releasing her, and she didn’t waste any time swimming off! We did catch a glimpse of her taking a breath of air before she swam out of sight.

Red and Kelly releasing the turtle. Photo by Kristie Anders.

This was a very memorable experience with my first Florida sea turtle!  I’m excited to take over as your fearless leader and look forward to the 2014 turtle season. Please don’t hesitate to call me at (239) 472-3984 with any questions regarding the sea turtle program. Happy holidays!

1 comment:

  1. Great Blog update - thanks for sharing. I look forward to work with you next season.