Marley is a juvenile sea green turtle and was admitted in March from the Crystal River area with active fibropapilloma tumors and possible shell rot. Marley responded well to aggressive supportive rehab management and nutrition. After several months Marley’s symptoms resolved and was deemed releasable.
As the Sea Turtle Nesting Team was out patrolling the beaches, they discovered a mama loggerhead nesting. This is normally done at night so it was quite a special treat to see this happening in broad daylight.
NESTING SEASON UPDATE: The 2011 sea turtle nesting season is off to a good start. As of July 5, we have found 68 nests in our patrol area which stretches from the south end of Caladesi Island State Park, through Upham Beach in St. Pete Beach. Our first nest was found on May 5, at Sand Key Park. For the 2009 nesting season our first nest was found on May 23, and as of June 22, 2010 we had found 31 nests. In 2010, we ended up with a total of 119 nests. Hopefully with the start that we have had this year, we will beat last year’s nest numbers.
Generally in our area we only see loggerhead turtle nests, but last year nest 119 was laid by a green turtle. This is the first time CMA has ever recorded a green turtle nest. This year we have already had a few unexpected surprises – we have already recorded two Kemp’s Ridley nests in our area. The last time we’ve seen these in our area was 2002. It’s already been an exciting season and it is still very early.
Nests will start hatching in the next week so it’s about to get even busier. Luckily we had a great turnout at our annual sea turtle nesting volunteer orientation meetings which were held early in June. Along with the team of eager nest sitting volunteers, we also have four enthusiastic interns, Christa, Dana, Emily, and Jessica. Also, Beverly Austin, who was a 2010 nesting intern, has stayed with us and is using her experience to help with morning patrol and to train the new interns.
Today marked the 10th successful sea turtle release for Clearwater Marine Aquarium so far this year. Wally is a juvenile Kemps Ridley that came to CMA on May 18th. A fisherman caught Wally at the Redington Beach Pier on his line. Wally had swallowed the fisherman’s baited hook along with some heavy test line. While viewing x-rays, the CMA turtle team was able to visualize the hook. With the aid of CMA’s veterinarian, Dr. Mike Walsh, CMA turtle staff and volunteers were able to extract the hook and line. After three weeks of healing the wounds in his esophagus, he began eating well and it was determined that he was eligible for release.
A fisherman hooking a sea turtle is not a rare occurrence in the Tampa Bay area. Here are some tips for responsible fishing and what to do if a sea turtle is hooked.
• Use barbless hooks or circle hooks versus J hooks with barbs.
• If you hook a sea turtle, do not reel it in, try to net the turtle.
• Do not try to extract the hook as this can cause more damage to the throat.
• If you must cut the line, leave at least two feet of line behind to tie off and stop the hook from migrating and causing further damage.
• Do not try to release the sea turtle. Call Florida Fish and Wildlife 1-888-404-3922 and Clearwater Marine Aquarium 1-727-441-1790 ext 234 and let us know you have a hooked sea turtle.
Clearwater Marine Aquarium is currently one of the largest sea turtle rehabilitation facilities in Florida. The upcoming $12 million dollar expansion of CMA includes new, state-of-the-art rehabilitation facilities and will double the current capacity for rehabilitating turtles.