SeaWorld rescues 24 of the world’s most endangered sea turtles
By: Ashley Gustafson
The amount of negative press surrounding one of the world’s most inspiring and impactful institutions, SeaWorld, lately is shameful and most importantly unfair. While SeaWorld is perhaps most famous for its shows and sparkle, SeaWorld’s purpose and mission has always been conservation, education, research, and rescue. For those that look past the performance and guest based amusement, SeaWorld does so much more for all marine life and our world’s oceans. One of these recent successes is the rescue of 24 endangered sea turtles.
Putting rescue in Perspective
Now 24 may not seem like a big number to you; after all the ocean is a rather large chunk of our planet but when we are talking about some of the most endangered turtles in world, the number becomes much more significant. On January 8, 2016, 24 endangered sea turtles were flown by the United States Coast Guard from Massachusetts to Orlando, Florida where SeaWorld’s rehabilitation experts were waiting their arrival. While the conditions of theses turtles varied, they are part of a large number of cold-stunned, stranded juvenile turtles in critical condition as the region’s oncoming winter progresses. The turtles were originally discovered and rescued by the New England Aquarium and volunteers of the Massachusetts Audubon Sanctuary at Wellfleet Bay on Cape Cod. With SeaWorld’s state of the art facilities and experts on call, the New England Aquarium staff was able to re-warm and stabilize the juvenile turtles until they were ready for transport to Orlando.
When the turtles arrived late at night, SeaWorld’s experts immediately began full health examinations on each and every turtle that went well through the night. While there is still much to learn and understand from these events, the experts at SeaWorld aim to provide a stable environment for each of the juvenile sea turtles so that they can regain their strength and health and be rehabilitated. The team’s goal is to ultimately return the turtles to their natural habitat, the ocean.
This may or not be the first time you have heard of these stranding events but it is in fact a startling trend that is not yet well understood. Last year, SeaWorld Orlando helped rehabilitate 72 cold-stunned Kemp’s ridley sea turtles that were also rescued in the New England region. These sea turtles were found in very similar conditions as the recent group of rescued sea turtles. In this case, SeaWorld was able to return all the sea turtles to warmer ocean waters once rehabilitated. That means 72 endangered sea turtles were returned to the ocean with the prospects of growing, maturing, and adding to the population. That is a huge feat for any endangered species. Check out this video of documentation from the rescue:
This story is just one of countless efforts SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment has put into conservation and research of marine animals. For more than 50 years, SeaWorld has made an impact on not only the human population but also more the 27,000 animals that have been rescued by their team of animal experts. These experts are dedicated and remain on call 24 hours a day and 7 days a week. The work SeaWorld does with their animals at their facilities and the animals they rescue and rehabilitate is so important to the survival and success of animals in the ocean. By understanding our impact on the oceans (pollution, toxic runoff, global warming, commercial fishing, illegal poaching, boating accidents etc.) we will be able to make a difference for animals who call it home. SeaWorld along with other AZA (Association of Zoos and Aquariums) are helping make this information attainable and help educate the masses. SeaWorld, aquariums, and zoos alike have never been more important to not only protecting marine animals but to giving them the chance of a future in an ever changing ocean.