Gulfarium C.A.R.E. Center successfully released 4 rehabilitated sea turtles

Special to Gannett

FORT WALTON BEACH — The Gulfarium's C.A.R.E. Center successfully released four rehabilitated sea turtles on May 27 at Topsail Hill Preserve State Park off of West County Highway 30A.

"It is always so rewarding when we release the sea turtles back into the Gulf," said Will Merrill, president of the Gulfarium. "All species of sea turtle are endangered so we are passionate about doing everything we can to help these animals. We have now entered sea turtle nesting season so we expect we will start to see an increase in the number of turtles visiting the C.A.R.E. Center."

The first turtle to be released was Rudolph, a juvenile green sea turtle weighing 34.8 pounds that was hooked in it's mouth at Navarre Beach Fishing Pier on May 21, 2021. The hook was carefully removed after arrival at the C.A.R.E. Center and radiographs showed no other ingested foreign debris so Rudolph was quickly cleared for release after a short recovery.

Gourdon, a juvenile green sea turtle weighing in at 33.7 pounds, was the second to be released after recently arriving at the C.A.R.E. Center on May 24. This was Gourdon's third visit to the center for rehabilitation but on this visit, the C.A.R.E. team were pleased to discover that despite being foul hooked in the right front flipper, there was no ingested foreign debris and the green sea turtle was quickly ready to head back into the Gulf. 


Phoebe was next to be released back into the Gulf of Mexico. This sub-adult loggerhead was found floating and lethargic at the Navarre Beach Fishing Pier on Feb. 26. Initially, there were no signs of life, but she took a breath during rescue and was quickly transported to the C.A.R.E. Center sea turtle hospital for emergency treatment. Phoebe suffered from pneumonia, GI issues, and anemia so was started on antibiotics and supportive fluids. After four months of rest and recovery she was able to return to the Gulf.

Seaweed, another sub-adult loggerhead, was the final turtle to be released. Seaweed was foul hooked at Navarre Beach Fishing Pier on April 24. She had a full blood testing panel upon arrival at the C.A.R.E. Center and the team were glad to see that all of her levels were normal. However, Seaweed was a slow swimmer and underweight when arriving to the center so she received a month of rest, relaxation, and close monitoring before being cleared for release.

If you see a sea turtle in distress, injured, or deceased, please report it to Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission immediately at 1-888-404-FWCC (1-888-404-3922).