Small Victories: Sea Turtles Released

GSML_Kemp's Ridleys Release 025People arrive haphazardly in twos and threes and ones. By the gazebo, under its shade with six folding chairs lined up empty, and a standing mike on the other side, people gather. The sea grasses along the wet sand beach move with a gentle current, soft breeze, and welcome cool.

“Today you get to see an endangered animal, a sea turtle, that is one of the rarest in the world, Jimmy,” his mother whispered near me. Jimmy appears to be about four years old. His eyes are wide dark orbs taking in the great round world.

We wade into the water up to the yellow tape that creates a watery avenue the turtles will navigate to open bay. The Gulf Specimen Marine Lab releases sea turtles after they are rehabilitated from injuries, most at human hands. Today six Kemp’s Ridley sea turtles will be released into Dickerson Bay at Shell Point Beach, Florida.

At Shell Point Beach, FL
At Shell Point Beach, FL

A short, tan man with a shock of white thick hair wades out into the water in clogs, and a light blue suit, white shirt, and tie. He is the charismatic founder of the Gulf Specimen Marine Lab, Jack Rudloe. This blue suit is the signal that another turtle release is about to happen.

Charlotte comes first, held by a university biology student, her flaxen pony tail swinging with energy. I can tell she is as thrilled as each of us watching. After telling the audience about the turtle’s rescue and recovery, she places Charlotte in the water to navigate the red carpet to the Gulf.

The turtles released today were helped by the Pier Initiative managed by the Loggerhead Marine Center in Jupiter Beach. GSML is a partner. Signs with information for fishermen and boaters, and a special net, help turtle recovery without further injury.

Five more Kemp’s Ridley’s turtles make their farewell, one after the other. People applaud. Six biological treasures go their way, hopefully to multiply and enjoy life on Earth. Everyone chats, feeling good about a wrong righted.

The sun is soft behind the clouds over the Gulf of Mexico. We depart in twos, threes, and ones. The work goes on.

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