Mississippi Aquarium releases endangered turtles back into Mississippi Sound

The turtles were brought last year from New England in an effort to rehabilitate them
The turtles were brought last year from New England in an effort to rehabilitate them(WLOX)
Published: Mar. 4, 2022 at 9:46 PM CST|Updated: Mar. 4, 2022 at 10:52 PM CST
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BILOXI, Miss. (WLOX) - Mississippi Aquarium released 11 endangered Kemp’s Ridley turtles back into the Mississippi Sound.

The turtles were brought last year from New England in an effort to rehabilitate them. Since then, four were released a few months ago. And on Friday, 11 more were given freedom.

Mississippi Aquarium CEO Kurt Allen said the turtles can get cold-stunned when the temperature drops before 50 degrees. When that happens, most stop moving, which causes many turtles to die.

“They get caught up in the cold waters in the Northeast and they get something called cold-stunned where they just float in the water and then they start getting really sick,” said Allen. “The people in the Northeast get them in off their beaches and then there’s not enough capacity to take care of these animals. So, they actually fly them around all over the Southeast to try to take care of these turtles.”

The rehabilitation efforts are part of the aquarium’s turtle conservation program. Every year they receive endangered species.

After the species are rehabilitated, they are released into the ocean. According to Allen, this is the youngest batch of turtles the aquarium has received. In fact, these turtles are around one to two years old.

“They come in and we do a full veterinarian work upon them to make sure they are healthy. We get them swimming around, we feed them, and then we do periodic checkups.”

Kemp’s Ridley turtles are the most endangered turtles in the world. They are also the most common in Mississippi waters.

“Every time we can care for an animal and return it back to the wild is really part of our conservation mission. When you can take care of critically endangered species it is pretty satisfying.”

The rest of the turtles will be released later this year.

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