I.M.M.S. & M.D.M.R. Partner to Rehabilitate Endangered Turtles

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The Institute for Marine Mammal Studies (I.M.M.S.) and the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources (M.D.M.R.) are working together to rehabilitate 30 turtles in danger from the cold weather in the northeastern section of the United States.

Hundreds of “cold-stunned” sea turtles have been washing up on Massachusetts beaches since mid-November due to unusually cold weather. Sea turtles are cold-blooded animals and can suffer from this potentially fatal condition when they are unable to escape cold-water temperatures in a timely manner.

These turtles have been overwhelming the New England Aquarium Marine Animal Rescue team, and they have asked rehabilitation facilities throughout the country to help save these animals.

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On Monday, Dec. 15th, the National Marine Fisheries Service and the U.S. Coast Guard will transport 85 of these turtles to Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport. Thirty turtles will be admitted to I.M.M.S. for rehabilitation, and the rest will be transported to the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas in New Orleans and Gulf World in Panama City, Fla.

“These cold-stunned sea turtles are juvenile Kemp’s ridley sea turtles, the main species in the Mississippi Sound,” said Moby Solangi, director of I.M.M.S. “They are an endangered species, so our goal is to rehabilitate them and release them into the Mississippi Sound.”
Recent research done by I.M.M.S. scientists and supported by M.D.M.R. has shown that the Sound is an important developmental habitat for this critically endangered species.

“These turtles need to be in a good habitat where they can grow and thrive,” said Jamie Miller, Executive Director of M.D.M.R. “When N.O.A.A. called and asked for Mississippi’s help, we were glad to provide the facilities for these turtles to be rehabilitated and released.”

Since 2010, M.D.M.R. and I.M.M.S. have partnered to respond to and rehabilitate more than 700 juvenile Kemp’s ridley sea turtles.

“M.D.M.R. and I.M.M.S. will continue this meaningful collaboration in caring for these sick turtles and helping our sister states in responding to this stranding emergency,” Solangi said.

For further information contact Dr. Moby Solangi at 228 547 0757