Mississippi Aquarium Releases Endangered Sea Turtles Into Gulf of Mexico

Bloomberg Quicktake: Now published this video item, entitled “Mississippi Aquarium Releases Endangered Sea Turtles Into Gulf of Mexico” – below is their description.

The Mississippi Aquarium has released six endangered sea turtles from the 75 brought to Louisiana and Mississippi this past fall after washing up in New England injured and sick from the cold.

A seventh turtle appeared stunned and was unwilling to swim away when introduced into the Gulf with the six others last week, so he rejoined those still being treated and will be released with the next batch at a later date.

All are Kemp’s ridley turtles, the smallest and most endangered of the six species found in U.S. waters and the species most common in the northern Gulf of Mexico.

Turtles get cold-stunned and lethargic when water chills quickly and they can’t get to warmer waters. The cold alone can kill them or can lead to pneumonia, shock and frostbite.

Thirty of the 75 turtles were taken to the Audubon Nature Institute in New Orleans. The other 45 were brought to the aquarium and the Institute for Marine Mammal Studies, or IMMS, both in Gulfport. Six were released July 20 on the beaches of Pass Christian, Mississippi.

Some have already been released elsewhere but others are still being treated at the institute and by Audubon’s Coastal Wildlife Network.

Moby Solangi, director of the IMMS, says a few of the turtles brought to the institute didn’t survive. He says the Kemp’s ridleys are one of the most endangered turtles in the world.

Hatchlings only have about a one in 10,000 chance of reaching adulthood, he said. They can live to be about 80 or 90 years old, but many get caught in fishing nets, on hooks, tangled in lines and hit by boats.

Their habitat, which includes the northern Gulf of Mexico, is critical to their survival, he said.

Louisiana Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser attended the recent turtle release because he’s concerned about his state’s plans to create a massive Mississippi River diversion that will flood the southeastern portion of the state’s coast with river water that will spill into Mississippi waters, killing countless turtles, dolphins and other marine life that rely on a certain amount of salinity.

The Mid-Barataria Sediment Diversion is a $2 billion project designed to build thousands of acres of freshwater marshes on the western side of the Mississippi River that will help knock down storm surge in the New Orleans area to the north.

But experts warn that it will come with damaging effects to the state’s shrimping and oyster industries, as well as dolphins and some coastal communities.

The money to build the diversion comes from fines BP paid after the 2009 Deepwater Horizon oil spill that sent millions of gallons into the Gulf and killed 11 rig workers. Barataria Bay was ground zero for the oil damage.

A final permit for the project has not yet been issued.

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