The Gulfarium's C.A.R.E. Center successfully released five rehabilitated sea turtle patients on Tuesday, June 13, 2023, at Inlet Beach in the Florida panhandle.
Since turtle season began in May, the Gulfarium C.A.R.E. Center has been very busy with the intake of injured turtles, sometimes receiving three to four turtles per day. The staff at the C.A.R.E. Center are working very hard and around the clock to give these turtles the care they need for a successful release into their natural environment.
"Aries", a subadult loggerhead weighing 150 lbs was accidentally hooked at Okaloosa Island Fishing Pier in October of 2022, had finally passed her tests and been cleared for release after an eight-month stay at the C.A.R.E. Center. Although Aries came in with similar ailments as other hooked turtles, it can depend on the individual turtle with how long it takes them to recover from the injuries, such as surgery recovery time and length of antibiotic treatments for other ailments.
"Tank", is very special because he is an adult male loggerhead, the C.A.R.E. Center does not see adult males very often. Weighing in at 202 lbs, he was accidentally hooked at the Navarre Beach Fishing Pier roughly two weeks ago and after successfully removing all external hooks, and Tank naturally passing his internal hook, he was ready to return home. "We felt very good about being able to treat and release Tank so quickly, it is currently breeding season for sea turtles so being able to send Tank back into the Gulf is very rewarding" said Gulfarium C.A.R.E. Center Stranding Coordinator, Tabitha Siegfried. Another special aspect of Tank's release is that he has been outfitted with a satellite tag for a study being conducted by Mote Marine Lab, tracking his long-range movements, and an acoustic tag by the United States Geological Survey (USGS) to track his nearby and in-shore movements.
Tabitha Siegfried, the Gulfarium C.A.R.E. Center Stranding Coordinator, C.A.R.E. volunteers, and Navarre Beach Sea Turtle Conservation Center volunteers with Tank prior to his departure into the Gulf.
"Cantaloupe", a subadult loggerhead weighing in at 74 lbs. was foul-hooked at Okaloosa Island Fishing pier yesterday, June 11, but had no internal hooks or other ailments so was immediately cleared for release once the hook was removed.
"Peach", a subadult loggerhead weighing in at 134 lbs. was foul-hooked in the left front flipper at the Pensacola Beach Fishing Pier on June 5th. Peach also had a treble hook and j-hook in her esophagus that was non-surgically removed here at the center.
Lastly, "Ethyl", a subadult loggerhead with a weight of 104 lbs was also foul-hooked in the mouth at the Pensacola Beach Fishing Pier yesterday, June 12th. Ethyl had no additional need for medical treatment after the hook removal so was immediately cleared for release.
If you see a sea turtle in distress, injured, or deceased please report it to Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission immediately at 1-888-404-FWCC (1-888-404-3922).
Follow the C.A.R.E. Center on Facebook to learn more about sea turtles and the center's rehabilitation efforts. The C.A.R.E. Center and its patients can be visited as part of a general admission ticket to Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park.
The Gulfarium CARE Foundation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit, is proud to act as a beacon for coastal conservation through marine animal rescue and rehabilitation. Donations are tax-deductible and can be made online on the C.A.R.E. Center's webpage.