18 June 2008

Turtle Rescue!

My day at Perdido Key was just about perfect. I'd found two new snowy plover nests, a field of wildflowers and finally got the south shore high tide line GPSd. The only thing that could have made it better was a Kemp's ridley (Lepidochelys kempi) nest.

We didn't have a nest, but these two gentlemen, Captain Dave Mucci and Jeremy Brown from Blue Water Adventures found this Kemp's ridley floating near Pensacola Pass. Jeremy jumped in to rescue the turtle, who was tangled in fishing line and had a new boat strike.

Left in the wild, this turtle may not have survived. The cuts from the entanglement were pretty deep, and the propeller wounds will need some attention to prevent infection, but the turtle should do well. She's at Gulf World now in Panama City. In a few months, we hope to see her or him, back in the sea. S/he almost looks like s/he's crying here, but it's really just a means of excreting excess salt. Crying sounds more poetic!

Kemp's ridleys are one of the most critically endangered species in our oceans. They are recovering, thanks to years of effort from a variety of groups, including Texas A&M, Padre Islands National Seashore and Sea Turtles, Inc. just to name a few. Twenty years ago, there were an estimated 700 adult females, the current estimate is closer to 3,000. It's still no where near the historic populations that used to nest in giant arribadas in Rancho Neuvo, but it's an improvement... Every little bit helps!

An action such as today's rescue may seem small, but it's incredibly important for the survival of these critically endangered animals. Thank you, Dave and Jeremy!!!

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