On September 16, Lateesha Hektner, (above on right) from SeaWorld Orlando’s animal rescue team, returned to the wild 12 sea turtles that had been in the park’s care. The sea turtles – 11 highly endangered Kemp’s Ridley and one green – all were impacted by the Gulf oil spill.
One of SeaWorld's animal experts who provided intensive, daily care to the turtles from the moment they arrived at SeaWorld, Lateesha described the experience as incredibly rewarding.
The 12 turtles came to SeaWorld earlier this summer because a critical care facility in Gulfport, Miss. needed more room in case additional sea turtles needed to be de-oiled and cared for due to the oil spill.
SeaWorld is one of the few organizations with the expertise to tend to the special needs of multiple species of sea turtles, including the Kemp’s Ridley.
The release took place in the waters of Gullivan Bay near Marco Island, Fla., a known habitat for both species of sea turtles. The 12 little guys will join other turtles released by SeaWorld’s team on July 8.
Since June, 115 oil-impacted turtles have come to SeaWorld for care. Working with state experts, the park’s rescue team has released 74 of them into Florida waters. Thursday’s release was a joint effort between SeaWorld Orlando, the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission and the Conservancy of Southwest Florida.
SeaWorld is a global leader in the rescue and rehabilitation of sea turtles. The park’s Animal Rescue & Rehabilitation Team in on call 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
On your next visit to SeaWorld Orlando, discover the animals we rescue, care for and return to the wild. Go here to find out more.