The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) received a call about a stranded Kemp’s ridley sea turtle (Lepidochelys kempii) from a family fishing in the Lake Charles area of Louisiana. The family was concerned because the turtle had stranded himself on the rock jetties and was not moving. LDWF called the Coastal Wildlife Network’s (CWN) Stranding and Rescue Program to pick up the sea turtle for rehabilitation. Strandings are unpredictable and can happen at any time as CWN staff met with LDWF biologist to transfer the turtle over around 10 pm at night! Upon visual assessment the turtle was deemed healthy enough for transport and receiving a more in-depth assessment the following morning. Initial work ups included blood work, x-rays, behavioral observations, measurements, weights and fluids. Initially he showed no interest in food but began eating within the week.
Eventually, CWN staff called him “Jitterbug” due to the “J” shaped marking he had on his shell. Jitterbug was moved to a deepwater floating pen where he could freely dive down for food. After months in rehabilitation Jitterbug was healthy enough to be released back into the Gulf of Mexico. Kemp’s ridley sea turtles are critically endangered making this release even more special. Jitterbug was released on September 30, 2015.
A juvenile Kemp’s ridley sea turtle (Lepidochelys kempii) was found injured by a concerned boater in July 2012 who then contacted the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF). LDWF contacted the Coastal Wildlife Network’s (CWN) Stranding and Rescue Program to pick up the turtle for rehabilitation. The turtle, affectionately known as “Jaws”, had a severe head injury from a presumed boat strike. An external brace was developed and attached to his jaws by Audubon veterinary staff and with help from the Louisiana Veterinary Referral Center. Due to the brace keeping Jaws’ mouth shut—veterinarians fitted a feeding tube for the animal. After a few months, the feeding tube and brace were removed. Jaws continued to show daily improvement and was eventually medically cleared for release! Kemp’s ridley sea turtles are critically endangered making this release even more special. Jaws was released on August 21, 2013.
If you see a sick or injured marine mammal or sea turtle call the CWN Stranding Hotline at (504) 235-3005.