Sea Turtle Airlift

An endangered Kemp’s Ridley sea turtle awaits staff and volunteers from the New England Aquarium to give him a check up, fluids and any medication he may need. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Connie Terrell.

A Coast Guard aircrew from Mobile, Alabama, transported 20 endangered cold-stunned Kemp’s Ridley sea turtles from Hanscom Air Force Base in Lincoln, Massachusetts, to Orlando, Florida on Sunday, December 12.

Volunteers and staff from the New England Aquarium, Hanscom Air Force Base and Coast Guard work to load endangered Kemp’s Ridley sea turtles into a Mobile, Ala.-based Coast Guard HC-144A Ocean Sentry. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Connie Terrell.

The crew transported the turtles to Orlando, where they will go to Sea World for further rehabilitation before potentially being released back into the wild.

“It’s a great Coast Guard day when we can help protect marine species—especially when we can get them home for the holidays,” said Katie Moore, the Living Marine Resources program manager at Coast Guard Atlantic Area in Portsmouth, Va. “Whether it is enforcing laws to protect sea turtles caught in nets or helping stranded whales—our shipmates take great pride in being stewards of the ocean.”

Joedee Foster (left), a volunteer with the New England Aquarium, holds an endangered Kemp’s Ridley sea turtle as Julika Wocial, from the New York Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research and Preservation, examines him while preparing him to be transported from the Animal Care Center in Quincy, MA. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Connie Terrell.

Personnel from the Massachusetts Audubon Center at Wellfleet Bay rescued the cold-stunned turtles within the past 6 weeks from beaches in Cape Cod. Many of the turtles were then taken to the New England Aquarium’s new Animal Care Center in Quincy, Massachusetts.

Cold-stunning in turtles in similar to hypothermia is humans. The turtles’ heart rate drops and body functions slow. The turtles become lethargic and unable to swim. Prolonged exposure can result in paralysis, at which time the turtles float to the surface or wash up on beaches.

Coast Guard petty officers Stephen Perusin (left) and Andrew Anderson, from Aviation Training Center Mobile, Ala., secure 20 endangered Kemp’s Ridley sea turtles for a flight from Hanscom Air Force Base. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Connie Terrell.

“One of the Coast Guard’s many missions is to protect living marine resources,” said Cmdr. Doug Nash, the operations officer of Aviation Training Center Mobile. “It’s a great honor to help not only these 20 turtles, but potentially help the species as a whole grow. Hopefully one day these turtles will be back in the wild and reproducing.”

Response, rehabilitation, and transport of endangered and threatened sea turtles is authorized and monitored nationally by NOAA and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Coast Guard Video:

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tPRPrcRSIJo

Staff and volunteers prepare twenty endangered Kemp’s Ridley sea turtles to be taken from Hanscom Air Force Base in Lincoln, MA, to Orlando, Fl. Coast Guard video by Petty Officer 3rd Class Connie Terrell.

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