SeaWorld workers left SeaWorld Orlando by 7 a.m. with the turtles secured in bins for the four-hour drive down South. Working with Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), they loaded them onto a boat, and then released them into the waters of Gullivan Bay. The group of turtles, consisting of eleven Kemp’s Ridley and one green sea turtle, were young – probably 2-3 years old, and were in great condition when released. All the rehab sea turtles must be eating, exhibit normal behavior, and pass a pre-release physical before they are released.
Sea World Orlando received these animals, but didn’t rescue them themselves. The turtles were rescued by staff in Louisiana and brought to a primary rehabilitation facility. At that point, any external oil was removed. When the turtles were healthy enough for transport, they were moved to SeaWorld (a secondary facility) where the rehab continued. At this point SeaWorld staff was looking primarily for internal problems. The turtles were kept at SeaWorld for two to four weeks and are expected to survive. Although scientist don’t know how old sea turtles live, it is generally estimated about 75 years.
The animals were placed in locations where other known sea turtles of that size are found. They will then be able to complete their normal migration. SeaWorld will be releasing more sea turtles in future. The decision of where they will be released is made by the FWC, but it is likely that they will be brought to Marco Island again for release back into Gulf waters.
Information courtesy of SeaWorld Orlando.