Rehabilitated turtles set free after a year of recovery

Image source: The Institute for Marine Mammal Studies.
Image source: The Institute for Marine Mammal Studies.

PASS CHRISTIAN, MS (WLOX) - Six sea turtles were blessed with holy water and then one by one set free after a long year of recovery.

IMMS Wildlife Ecologist Andy Coleman said, "It's just a complete team effort from everyone and the volunteers from the Institute for Marine Mammal Studies (IMMS)."

"There is a lot of work involved in that it is part of, what we do everyday. Monitor the turtles we have that have come in injured. We do surgeries on them," IMMS Wildlife Ecologist Jonathan Pitchford said. "The care and upkeep of these animals is intense, but we do our best."

Once the turtles prove strong enough to make it on their own, the endangered amphibians are set free.

On Saturday five Kemp's Ridleys and one Green Sea turtle were released by local students next to the Pass Christian Harbor near several reefs.

"I always like to tell people when you release a Kemp's Ridleys they kind of move away real slow, kind of easily, when you release a Green they kind of take off fast," Pitchford said, "So it's kind of fun to release both but the Greens are definitely faster."

That is not the only thing the students learned.

Eleven-year-old Jonathan Schrentz said, "These are very rare turtles. They are endangered."

Ten-year-old Olivia Alls said, "I feel like it just shows everyone to take care of animals."

It was a proud day for those at IMMS as well as a rewarding day for those who took part in the release.

Schrentz said, "It was really fun. It's a special thing to do. I mean not everyone gets to do it."

"I think that's the great thing about IMMS is we get involvement with kids and volunteers. It's just such a huge part of what we do," Pitchford said.

One of the turtles released was named Chipper in honor of Pass Christian's Mayor Chipper McDermott.

You can track Chipper and see where he travels by clicking here.

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