BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - For years, Coast firemen have been helping the Institute for Marine Mammal studies rescue injured or stranded sea turtles, but recently they have seen a higher amount of stranded turtles.
The Director of IMMS tells WLOX News the increase in stranded turtles is probably because there are more fishermen in the water due to shrimp season.
"What happens is, they have a hook or a leader in them, and we ask the people to cut the leader back about eight inches from them. Then we tape that to their shell, put them into a little small container and we bring them here to the station, "said Biloxi Deputy Chief of Operations Jeff Merrill.
Once they are taken to the station, the firefighters take care of them.
"We put Vaseline on their shells and coat them up on their fins, eye drops in their eyes and just take care of them like you would an animal," said Merrill.
IMMS Director Moby Solangi says it's really amazing how well they take care of the turtles until IMMS workers can get to them.
"If it wasn't for the fire department folks, none of these animals would have survived," said Solangi.
If a turtle is rescued by the fire department early in the day, IMMS workers come to get the turtle right away. If it's late at night, or the weekend, the turtle gets an overnight stay at the fire department.
"It has been a wonderful experience working with our fire department folks. Many of these turtles come up in the middle of the night when people are fishing and fishing activity is high, and so they are really helping us save these animals," said Solangi.
Solangi says a lot of these turtles are badly injured when they arrive at IMMS, and if it wasn't for the firemen being able to help with the high volume of rescues, their survival rate would be much lower.
"We have a 98 percent survival rate, which is a very good rate. I think if we weren't there and without the help of our firefighters, we would not be that successful," said Solangi.
IMMS workers have more than 50 turtles in their care right now, and say the firefighters have been a huge help in saving them.