Home Education Gulfarium C.A.R.E. Center Successfully Releases First Two Sea Turtles of the Season

Gulfarium C.A.R.E. Center Successfully Releases First Two Sea Turtles of the Season

C.A.R.E. Center volunteers Rebecca and DiAnne helped "Butterflake" return to the Gulf.

The Gulfarium’s C.A.R.E. Center successfully released its first two rehabilitated sea turtle patients of the 2024 season on Tuesday, April 9th, 2024 at Inlet Beach in Panama City Beach, Florida.


In 2023, the Gulfarium C.A.R.E. Center achieved a record season, successfully rehabilitating and releasing over 100 sea turtles. As the nesting season from May to October approaches, the center’s staff and volunteers are gearing up for another bustling period.

The recent release event on Tuesday signaled the start of an anticipated year ahead. The joy of seeing the sea turtles return to their natural habitat was celebrated by C.A.R.E. Center personnel, South Walton lifeguards, and beach enthusiasts alike.

“Eevie,” a 2.2-pound juvenile Kemp’s ridley sea turtle, was accidentally foul-hooked at Okaloosa Island Fishing Pier on Sunday, April 8th. The hook was easily removed from the turtle’s esophagus and no additional hooks were found. Eevie was medically cleared for release upon intake and is now happily swimming back home in the Gulf.

C.A.R.E. Center Stranding Coordinator, Tabitha Siegfried, educates beachgoers and locals on the importance of sea turtle conservation and how to protect our beaches.

“Butterflake,” a 95-pound subadult Loggerhead, was accidentally foul-hooked at Okaloosa Island Fishing Pier on Saturday, April 7th. All of the turtle’s hooks were superficial and easily removed, and X-rays showed no internal hooks. This marked Butterflake’s fourth visit to the C.A.R.E. Center. Now released nearly 40 miles away, there’s hope Butterflake will avoid fishing piers and refrain from any future visits.

C.A.R.E. Center Stranding Coordinator Tabitha Siegfried expressed her enduring appreciation for witnessing sea turtles return to their natural habitat. She highlighted the swift rehabilitation and release of Butterflake and Eevie, emphasizing gratitude to all supporters and attendees who make such celebrations possible. Siegfried concluded by acknowledging the collective effort, stating, “We couldn’t do it without you.”

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).

Follow the C.A.R.E. Center on Facebook to learn more about sea turtles and the center’s rehabilitation efforts.  The C.A.R.E. Center and its patients can be visited as part of a general admission ticket to Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park.

The Gulfarium CARE Foundation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit, is proud to act as a beacon for coastal conservation through marine animal rescue and rehabilitation. Donations are tax-deductible and can be made online on the C.A.R.E. Center’s webpage or through their Amazon Wishlist.