Courtesy of LDWF

The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) in cooperation with the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas released a rehabilitated Kemp’s ridley Sea Turtle back into the Gulf of Mexico.

A concerned boater reported the injured turtle to LDWF on July 2, 2012 and LDWF biologist Paul Cook rescued the turtle that same day.  The turtle had severe head injuries, including damage to the right eye and the upper and lower mandible, or jaw.

The turtle, affectionately known as “Jaws” was transported to the Audubon Nature Institute’s Aquatic Center in New Orleans for evaluation and eventually underwent surgery at the Louisiana Veterinary Referral Center (LVRC) in Mandeville, La.  The turtle’s rehabilitation has been overseen by Audubon Aquarium of the Americas’ veterinary staff.

Today, LDWF fisheries biologists transported Jaws offshore for its release back into the Gulf of Mexico near a production platform, south of Marsh Island.  This location was chosen because platforms are known to harbor various marine life forms and will provide a steady food supply and shelter as the turtle acclimates to its new environment.

Courtesy of LDWF

“The cooperation between our public, Audubon Nature Institute and the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries has produced an incredible response and rehabilitation program”, said LDWF Assistant Secretary Randy Pausina.  “We rely heavily on the public’s help in reporting these encounters; their help has allowed us to return an endangered sea turtle today.”

Five species of sea turtles including: Eretmochelys imbricate, Hawksbill; Chelonia mydas, Green; Caretta caretta, Loggerhead; Dermochelys coriacea, Leatherback; and Lepidochelys kempii, Kemp’s ridley may be found in Louisiana’s intricate marsh system, on our beaches or in Gulf of Mexico waters off of our coastline. Kemp’s ridleys are considered the smallest sea turtles, usually weighing between 80 to 100 pounds when fully matured.

To report an injured or dead marine mammal or sea turtle in Louisiana, call the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries hotline at (337) 962-7092.

For more information about the LDWF sea turtle rescue program contact Mandy Tumlin at 225-765-2377 or mtumlin@wlf.la.gov, for press inquiries contact Ashley Roth at aroth@wlf.la.gov or (504) 286-4162.