Nearly 200 Sea Turtles Were Released Off Fort Pierce, And The Pictures Are Just Too Much
June 25, 2015 — Time for these turtles to take to the high seas.
On Wednesday, 199 mature loggerhead turtles were released in the waters off Fort Pierce after participating in research intended to help the endangered sea turtle population.
The turtles were part of an annual two-week study in Panama City Beach that tests the efficacy of TEDs, or turtle excluder devices, that are attached to shrimp trawls. The devices are designed to allow turtles to escape from shrimp nets while keeping the shrimp captured inside.
The animals are raised at the National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries’ Sea Turtle Facility in Galveston, Texas, and then transferred to Panama City Beach when they're 2 years old.
According to NOAA Fisheries, the turtles are later released, unharmed, into the wild after spending 40 days being conditioned into a semi-wild environment by scientists.
“From what we can tell, our evidence indicates that the turtles we release become fully assimilated into the wild stocks,” NOAA biologist Ben Higgins said. “They do not appear to suffer any adverse effects from being raised in captivity or used in the research.”
The turtles have been released off Fort Pierce for more than a decade. The NOAA gets the turtle eggs from the Atlantic coast, and it’s important the adult turtles be returned to an area similar to where they were born, a rep explained. This year, the United States Coast Guard from Station Fort Pierce helped with the event.
Here are some photos of the turtle release: