Mississippi Aquarium releases 100th endangered sea turtle

Thursday, the Mississippi Aquarium hosted its own form of graduation while also reaching a major milestone.
Published: May. 25, 2023 at 10:17 PM CDT
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BILOXI, Miss. (WLOX) - Thursday, the Mississippi Aquarium hosted its own form of graduation while also reaching a major milestone — releasing its 100th sea turtle back into its habitat. 13 endangered Kemp Ridley sea turtles are now heading into the Mississippi Sound.

Sean Perry, Associate Veterinarian with the Mississippi Aquarium, said the sea turtles arrived from their nesting grounds in New England after surviving a cold-stun.

Perry said it happens to between 300 and one thousand turtles every year.

“We’ve been partners with NOAA, U.S. Fish and Wildlife and New England Aquarium. They’ve been effectively been able to transport those animals with pilots from Turtles Fly too. They’ve been able to get down to the MS Gulf Coast for rehabilitation,” said Perry.

Cold stunning in sea turtles happens when the water rapidly drops in temperature. The turtles then become debilitated and stranded.

The road to recovery can take months, or even years.

“We usually go through kind of a general intake procedure. They usually come in a little colder to us. We’ll warm them up over time. We’ll take diagnostics. We’ll end up doing full physical exams, X-rays evaluating them. The most common things they come in with are pneumonia, bone infections over time,” said Perry.

One Kemp’s Ridley sea turtle had started treatment two years ago.

This event places the MS Aquarium on its 102nd release since August 2020.

Perry’s goal is to continue spreading the message of helping endangered animals in dire situations.

“It’s not everyday you get to see the release of marine life back into its natural environment,” said Abby Caitlyn, a gulf coast resident.

“Our goal is to engage the community. Get everyone involved as best we can and to see that support from the community is fantastic,” said Perry.

The release comes after World Turtle Day, which is observed May 23rd each year.

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