Sea Turtle rescue and release

turtle-00By Lyndsey Howell
On May 5, 2017 the Galveston County Road and Bridge workers located a severely emaciated and lethargic endangered Kemp’s ridley. The turtle had stranded on one of the more remote parts of the peninsula, near High Island. Staff member RD Stewart immediately called the sea turtle hotline [1-866-TURTLE-6] which connected him to our NOAA Sea turtle Facility. He initially thought the turtle was deceased since it was unresponsive but, under my direction, he examined the turtle closer and it was still alive. He carefully placed it in a container with a wet towel and monitored the animal while I drove to meet him.

The Kemp's ridley was in poor shape when discovered on the beach

The Kemp’s ridley was in poor shape when discovered on the beach

I did not think the turtle would even survive the trip back to our hospital since it was in such poor nutritional shape. My initial intake notes recorded were “Very lethargic and eyes are closed, with minimal response. Severe emaciation. Filamentous algae growth on the carapace, concentrated on the left side, flotation is likely lopsided due to a pneumonia infection. Prognosis poor.”

The turtle was on fluids every day for the first week it was in our care, and was on antibiotics for 30 days. The turtle finally ate seafood after it had been in the hospital for 7 days. After 6 weeks in our care, the turtle had made a miraculous recovery and was cleared for release by our veterinarian.

The turtle made a miraculous recovery and was cleared for release

The turtle made a miraculous recovery and was cleared for release

I invited RD Stewart to participate in the release of the turtle he saved from dying. The turtle was released on 6-19-2017 on the Bolivar peninsula.

Galveston County Road & Bridge workers, in particular RD Stewart, have gone above and beyond to assist in saving sea turtles on the Bolivar peninsula. They are always willing to help in sea turtle conservation however they can, including placing sea turtle educational signage on the peninsula, finding nesting Kemp’s ridleys on the beach and protecting them, [and their tracks, they have eagle eyes!] and rescuing stranded sick/injured sea turtles.

RD Stewart participated in the release

RD Stewart participated in the release

I am so appreciative of these workers; RD has been a great asset and I want the community to know what they have done for our sea turtles on the upper Texas coast.

Lyndsey Howell, M.S.
Research Fishery Biologist
4700 Ave U
Galveston, Tx 77551

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