FT. LAUDERDALE, Fla. (WFLA) — Florida-stationed Coast Guard crewmembers released more than 200 rehabilitated sea turtles about 10 miles off the Florida coast Tuesday.
The Green, Loggerhead, and Hawksbill sea turtles came from multiple turtle hospitals along the Florida coast. They were all rehabilitated after not making it into the ocean during nesting season.
“During nesting season, March 1 – Oct. 31, the turtles released, known as washbacks, journeyed from their nest to the ocean, but were blown back to shore and range from a few weeks to several months old,” Petty Officer Nicole Groll said. “When turtles are blown back to shore, this is a sign that something is wrong.”
So the turtles were admitted to a turtle rehabilitation center, kept hydrated with fluids, allowed to nest in a hospital tank, and fed until they were strong enough to be released back into the ocean.
“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 crewmembers release the turtles as close to the Gulf Stream as possible, to give them a better chance of survival.
“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,” said Whitney Crowder, the sea turtle rehabilitation coordinator with Gumbo Limbo Nature Center. “We are giving them a better chance to become an adult by releasing them offshore and as close to the Gulf Stream and their habitat, as possible.”