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Gulfarium C.A.R.E. Center Releases Four Rehabilitated Sea Turtles

The Gulfarium C.A.R.E. Center successfully released four more rehabilitated sea turtle patients on Friday, November 17th, 2023 in Perdido Key, Florida.
After a record summer of turtle intakes, the Gulfarium C.A.R.E. Center has been relieved with the slowing down of the season. As the weather cools down, sea turtles swim towards deeper, cooler water, and their activity in the shore of the Emerald Coast lessens. This public release was presented by the Gulfarium C.A.R.E. Center staff and volunteers, and celebrated alongside a crowd a beachgoers.

"Dakota," a 200-pound adult male Loggerhead was rescued on August 10th, 2023 after being accidentally hooked at Okaloosa Island Fishing Pier. He was the 100th turtle to be brought into the Gulfarium C.A.R.E. Center in 2023! Dakota's foul-hook was easily removed, but he was extremely lethargic and his blood tests showed he was very anemic. He was also missing more than 50% of his left front flipper and the distal portion of his right front flipper, but those wounds appeared to be old and healed. Through a three month rehabilitation process, Dakota's energy returned, his anemia leveled out, he gained an appropriate amount of weight for a turtle of his size, and he was medically cleared by the veterinary staff for release! Dakota is a special case, as research on male turtles is incredibly limited since they don't come to shallow water often. Because of this, the United States Geological Survey (USGS) has placed a satellite tag on Dakota to monitor his activity throughout the Gulf.

"Lorna," a 185-pound adult female Loggerhead was accidentally foul-hooked at Pensacola Beach Fishing Pier on October 1st, 2023. Lorna was initially hooked on September 27th, but her rescue attempt was unsuccessful. Lorna came into the C.A.R.E. Center with hook fragments, one in each shoulder region. She also had a j-hook in her left front axilla region, and radiographs revealed she had at least five internal hooks in her esophagus. Lorna's hooks were removed and/or passed, and after a one-month stay at the C.A.R.E. Center, she was medically cleared for release.

"Grilled Cheese," a subadult Loggerhead weighing just under 80-pounds, was accidentally hooked on November 8th, 2023 at Okaloosa Island Fishing Pier. Grilled Cheese is no stranger to fishing piers, and no stranger to the C.A.R.E. Center as he was treated there this past June as well. This time around, Grilled Cheese had a hook in his esophagus, which our veterinary staff was able to non-surgically remove with their new scope provided by a grant from the Sea Turtle Conservancy. After quickly recovering from the procedure, Grilled Cheese was medically cleared for release.

"Butterflake," a subadult Loggerhead, was accidentally foul-hooked at Okaloosa Island Fishing Pier on November 13th, 2023. This was Butterflake's third time at the C.A.R.E. Center, each time from a foul-hook at OIFP. This time, Butterflake had a hook in the mouth which was removed, and a hook in his GI tract, which was passed during his short stay at the C.A.R.E. Center. Butterflake was medically cleared for release by the C.A.R.E. Center veterinary staff, and will hopefully stay away from fishing piers!

"I think this was my favorite release of the year," said Gulfarium C.A.R.E. Center Stranding Coodinator, Tabitha Siegfried. "The process of rescue and rehabilitation can sometimes be strenuous, but days like today never get old, and are such a great reminder for our staff and team that what we do matters. Hopefully we can help inspire hearts for conservation of these incredible animals for those in attendance, too."

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