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Historic Release of Endangered Sea Turtle

Yesterday, a jubilant gathering of locals, tourists, and sea turtle advocates witnessed a landmark moment in marine conservation as the Gulfarium C.A.R.E. Center released seven rehabilitated sea turtles back into the Gulf of Mexico at Topsail Hill State Preserve. Organized by the Gulfarium C.A.R.E. Center Foundation, the event showcased the successful rehabilitation efforts and ongoing commitment to protecting marine wildlife.

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The highlight of the release was the introduction of Landon, an adult male Kemp’s Ridley sea turtle weighing 62 lbs. Landon’s journey to recovery began after he was hooked at Pensacola Beach Fishing Pier on June 30, 2024. Kemp’s Ridley sea turtles are critically endangered, with only an estimated 22,000 individuals remaining in the wild. The significance of Landon’s release cannot be overstated, as it marks the first time the C.A.R.E. Center has rehabilitated and released an adult male of this species.

In a monumental step for conservation, the United State Geological Survey (USGS) representatives applied a satellite tag to Landon to provide valuable data on long-distance movements and behaviors. Acoustic tags were also applied to the remaining turtles released today, allowing researchers to assess fine-scale movements and habitat use around fishing piers. The USGS hopes to compare the movement patterns of rehabilitated turtles to wild caught sea turtles aiding in conservation efforts to reduce the number of sea turtles hooked and entangled in fishing gear.

Tabitha Siegfried, Stranding Coordinator for the Gulfarium C.A.R.E. Center, expressed the rarity and importance of Landon’s release, stating, “Kemp’s ridleys are the most endangered of all seven species, and male sea turtles are already extremely rare. A male Kemp’s Ridley is incredible to be able to see and work with. Male sea turtles rarely come to shore unless sick, injured, or deceased, making encounters like this exceedingly rare.”

The Gulfarium C.A.R.E. Center Foundation extends its appreciation to the community, volunteers, and partner organizations whose support makes these releases possible.

If you see a sea turtle in distress, injured, or deceased please report it to the 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.