13 Sea Turtles Go Back to the Wild!

On Friday, May 31st several Houston Zoo staff, board and committee members assisted NOAA employees with the release of 13 turtles who have been rehabilitated and were ready to continue their lives in the great open ocean!  2 different species of turtles were released on Friday. Several green sea turtles were released into the bay area and the remaining Kemp’s ridley turtles were released across the street onto the beach. The release sites of these animals are determined by NOAA staff depending on the age, size, range and diet of the sea turtle species.

The day was not only special because 13 sea turtles returned to the wild, but also because 1 of the 13 turtles was our Kipp Aquarium resident who was healthy enough to go back to the Gulf of Mexico! Although this green sea turtle will be missed, we are sure to have another sea turtle resident for our guests to see at the Zoo soon! We will keep you updated.

The Zoo’s green sea turtle gets a flipper tag before being released so it can be identified if it ever comes onto the shore again. Photo by Stephanie Adams.

Finally, the day was capped off with one more success story. The green sea turtle who was rescued from a freshwater pond outside of Houston this past fall was successfully rehabilitated at the NOAA Galveston facility through the medical assistance of the Zoo’s Vet Clinic. Many of the Vet Clinic staff were on hand at the release to let this very special green sea turtle go. It is very uncommon for a sea turtle to survive extended time in freshwater, so the fact that this green sea turtle survived and was able to be released back into salt water was wonderful!

The green sea turtle rescued from freshwater in the greater Houston area with the Zoo’s Vet Clinic team who helped to bring this turtle back to a healthy state.
Dr. Joe Flanagan releasing the large green sea turtle into the bay!
This green sea turtle swims off with ease!

Unfortunately, not all sea turtles have wonderful success stories like the ones described here. You can help create positive outcomes for our sea turtles by reporting any sightings on the beach and calling 1-866-TURTLE-5. NOAA depends heavily on the help of the public to report sightings of sea turtles, and we truly appreciate everyone who is willing to help!

This Kemp’s ridley was released with a satellite tag to track its movements in order to determine better conservation plans for the species.

With your assistance, we can have a lot more turtles returning to the wild! For more information on the Houston Zoo and our effort to conserve sea turtles, please visit our website.

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