Jul 31

SeaWorld Orlando Returns Two Hawksbill Sea Turtles after Months of Rehabilitation

by Staff

Yesterday SeaWorld Orlando’s Animal Rescue team returned two juvenile hawksbill sea turtles off the coast of West Palm Beach, Fla. Both of the young sea turtles were brought to the park in March for rehabilitation after being found on Florida beaches. At the time of their arrival, they were small hatchlings estimated to be approximately two months old.

After receiving examinations and continued care - including feeding, physical therapy and around-the-clock observation and monitoring - the pair was cleared for yesterday’s return to the ocean.

Our Animal Rescue team traveled six miles offshore to the “weed line,” a floating mass of dense vegetation where hatchlings live after initially leaving the beach. This area is crucial for a sea turtle hatchling’s survival as it provides protection from predators and is home to a number of food sources.

One of the hatchlings was found at Melbourne Beach by a tourist and was dropped off at the Sea Turtle Preservation Society in Melbourne Beach, Fla., Weighing only 2 ounces and measuring nearly 3 inches long, the turtle was in lethargic and weak condition when it arrived. The second turtle was found in Cocoa Beach and was also brought to the Sea Turtle Preservation Society. At the time of arrival, the hatchling weighed 2.5 ounces and was just over 3 inches long. This turtle’s shell was covered with algae and fauna.

Because of their age and size, the hatchlings were living in a small brooder where the temperature was kept at a constant 84 degrees. The turtles were taken home in their brooder each night by a turtle expert (aquarist) for middle-of-the-night feedings until they were healthy enough to eat on their own.

Hawksbill turtles are endangered due to human exploitation and habitat degradation. So far in 2012, SeaWorld Orlando has rescued 26 sea turtles and returned 10.

For more than 45 years, SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment has helped animals in need -- ill, injured and orphaned. More than 20,000 animals have been rescued by our experts.‚€™SeaWorld’s animal rescue team is on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.