Aug 17

SeaWorld San Diego Sends an Olive Ridley Sea Turtle to Paradise

On a day laced with “Wow” moments, Paradise Fears -- an olive ridley sea turtle named after the pop-rock band of the same name -- was returned to the wild by SeaWorld’s Rescue Team. The six-member band’s 20-something publicist, Tiffany Taylor, joined in on the voyage and got to be part of giving the endangered species a second chance at life.

Paradise Fears had been recuperating at our animal care complex for nearly 10 months before heading home Monday, Aug. 13, 2012. The turtle was rescued in Monterey, Calif. Oct. 5, 2011, dehydrated, underweight, with multiple lacerations on her shell and cold-stunned (sea turtles suffering in waters that have dramatically dropped — typically below 50 degrees Fahrenheit — can become cold-stunned). Since being in the care of our marine-life park animal caretakers and veterinarians, Paradise received rehydration fluids, antibiotics and a nutrient-rich diet of squid, shrimp, capelin, mackerel and a variety of other fish while putting on 15 pounds. She now weighs a healthy 86 pounds and is able to forage for food on her own. An adult olive ridley weighs between 75 and 110 pounds.

A couple of days before going home, research scientists from Hubbs-SeaWorld Research Institute outfitted the turtle with a satellite transmitter. Scientists hope to track the animal’s movements at sea to learn more about where the species travels in the ocean, along with perhaps why. The information gained through the tracking is invaluable to saving olive ridleys, considering the Eastern Pacific population faces a high risk of extinction due to injuries and accidental death in fishing gear. Since returning to the ocean Monday, Paradise has traveled 50.5 miles in a southwest direction. When last checked this Friday morning Aug. 17, she was found paddling more than 70 miles in the ocean south, southwest of Mission Bay. Go Paradise Go!

Check out Tiffany’s exhilarating excursion; she thanked me for allowing her to take my spot on our rescue boat “… this was an awesome experience — you’ve treated me like a celebrity.”

All sea turtle footage provided by SeaWorld under NMFS permit number 14510

So far this year, SeaWorld’s Animal Rescue and Rehabilitation Program has rescued and cared for more than 250 marine mammals, reptiles and birds. Our park’s goal is to return these rehabilitated animals to the wild — giving them a second lease on life. On average, our animal care specialists rescue and treat more than 300 marine mammals, turtles and seabirds each year. Of these animals, seals and sea lions form the largest percentage.