Endangered sea turtles now swim the same water where, three months ago, humans rescued them from the toxic soup created by the BP spill spewing oil deep below.
A group of 33 young Green, Kemp’s Ridley, Hawksbill and Loggerhead sea turtles returned to paddle the briny waters of the Gulf of Mexico on Oct. 21. They are the first group to be released into an area near where they were rescued, about 40 miles southwest of Grand Isle, Louisiana.
All 33 turtles represent rare members of the Gulf’s ecosystem. Green, Kemp’s Ridley and Hawksbill sea turtles are endangered species. Loggerheads are listed as threatened.
“I am excited to see these turtles returned to the waters from which they had been rescued during the spill — they’re going home today,” said Coast Guard Rear Admiral Roy A. Nash on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration‘s website. “This is an encouraging sign that the Gulf of Mexico is recovering.”
The turtles were cleaned and cared for at the Audubon Nature Institute outside New Orleans.
“Six months ago, it was nearly impossible to imagine this day would ever come,” said Ron Forman, president and CEO of the Audubon Nature Institute.
Including these 33 turtles, 270 sea-faring chelonians have been returned to the Gulf after being de-oiled and rehabilitated. But this group is the first to be released near where they were rescued.
“Returning this group of sea turtles to their home waters is more than a great achievement for all of our dedicated staff, it is a sign that Louisiana is on the path towards recovery,” said Randy Pausina of the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries.
PHOTO: Loggerhead Turtle: Wikimedia Commons