30 Jul 14

Back into the Wild! ...

by Nancy E. Hassel, LIPetPlace.com

Living on Long Island we are so privleged to see so much wildlife around us on land, and in the sea.  Being surrounded by water offers a huge variety of marine life to see, if you take the time to look!  This past Saturday, in Hampton Bays, the Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research and Preservation held a sea turtle release at Ponoquogue Beach.  What a joy to be able to see this juvenile Kemps Ridley Sea Turtle, who was a cold stun rescue from October 2013, be released back into the ocean. Kemps Ridley sea turtle’s are the most endangered species of sea turtles and the smallest – weighing 80 to 100lbs compared to other, much larger sea turtles.

The turtle named Estonia, was found on the beach in Long Beach – she was a cold stun rescue.  A turtle that is cold stunned is a result of the water temperature rapidily decreasing which can cause the turtle to stop feeding, heart rate to slow and float on top of the water.  Estonia is one of many turtles that the Riverhead Foundation cares for due to being cold stunned and she was rehabilated at their facility since she was found.  I asked one of the volunteers why they were just releasing her now, they informed me they have to wait until the water temperature is warm enough.

There was easily over 150 people there (on both sides) waiting to see the release.  I don’t know who was more excited, the humans or Estonia as they walked her past all the onlookers, as soon as they went by the ocean she was practically jumping out of the turtle carrier!  Her flippers were going and you could tell she was ready to go back home.

Estonia flapped her flippers the entire way she was being held, kind of like when you hold a dog above water and they do a doggie paddle in the air.  It was adorable!

Off she goes! She went very quickly into they ocean once they place her on the sand.

The device that is glued to her shell is a tracking device, and as she travels in the ocean the Riverhead Foundation has an area of their website where you can see her travels by tracking her.  As she grows, the device may fall off as her shell gets bigger, remember she’s a young turtle.

For more information on all the fantastic programs that the Riverhead Foundation has, to make a donation and to learn more about what they do, visit their website!

Good luck Estonia!

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