Endangered Kemp Ridley’s sea turtle on the mend at IMMS

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Last week we brought you a story about one of the rare Kemp’s Ridley sea turtles that required intense care and surgery after she swallowed a fishing hook.

What a difference a week makes! This endangered Kemp’s Ridley sea turtle was on her last leg, sprawled out on the operating table at the Institute for Marine Mammal Studies, life hanging in the balance as this IMMS rescue team raced to locate and identify an embedded fishing hook, ultimately removed after hours of intense and sophisticated surgery under the hands of MSU Veterinarian Dr. John Thomason who drove all the way from Starkville to lend a hand. Veterinarian Dr. Debra Moore said, “It took quite a bit of time. It’s the maneuvering and trying to get the hook that was embedded in the stomach out. We were really pleased and happy. We were almost screaming with excitement to see the hook finally come out.”

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IMMS workers have been keeping a close eye on their patient, now known only as turtle number eight.  She’s on the move and if appetite is any indication, this young gal is definitely on the mend. IMMS Stranding Coordinator Theresa Madrigal said, “For right now, she’s getting some medications to help with her stomach. She’s also transitioning into a diet now that they eat naturally in their environment. Blue crab is their primary diet here. Everyday she’s going to get some blue crabs until she’s ready to go.”

The Kemp’s Ridley turtle was rescued and is being rehabbed thanks to a quick-thinking and observant fisherman who called the IMMS so the turtle could get help. “He did catch her on his hook and line. These are opportunistic feeders so they are going to go after any kind of meal they can get. Sometimes it’s not avoidable, but the most important thing is to call and let us know so we can go ahead and remove the hook. In this case it could have caused a serious problem if she had gotten free, but we were able to successfully remove that and are able to treat her here.”

This turtle’s survival has far-reaching effects. “Only less than one-percent of the whole nest will survive to adulthood, to lay eggs. Her rehabilitation is critically important to getting her out so she can contribute to the population.”

If you see or catch one of these sea turtles on a hook or line or any injured or dead marine mammal or sea turtles you’re asked to call the IMMS at 1-888-SOS-Dolphin or 1-888-767-3657.

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Toni started at WXXV News 25 in December of 2013, just three months after the news was launched. She has served as Assignment Editor, anchored for nearly two years, worked as a reporter for several years and hosted Coastal Connections for more than four years. Toni graduated Magna Cum Laude from the University of Southern Mississippi where she was editor of the Student Printz. She then did an internship on Capitol Hill, working for a U.S. Senator, then returned to Mississippi as a reporter at WDAM in Hattiesburg. After that, she moved to the Mississippi Gulf Coast, working as a reporter for FOX 25 in Biloxi, then crossing city lines to work at WLOX-TV news in Biloxi, starting out as a producer, then working as a photographer, reporter, weekend assignment editor and weekend anchor. She was among the station team that won the Edward Murrow and Peabody awards for coverage during Hurricane Katrina. Toni moved to the Lone Star State where she worked as the morning and noon anchor, investigative reporter and live shot reporter for KZTV Action 10 News, then KRIS TV News in Corpus Christi, Texas. Toni moved back to the Magnolia State to be with and take care of her family, working as a multi-media journalist and fill-in anchor at WDBD Fox 40 news in Jackson. After almost completing a second degree in filmmaking at the University of Southern Mississippi Gulf Coast, Toni transitioned back to news at News 25. Toni is blessed to have a wonderful support network of close family, friends and mentors, and she hopes to pay it forward. She has a three-legged chiweenie named Rocky Balboa because of his fighting spirit. She loves writing and has completed a novel that has been adapted into a screenplay, and has just finished another screenplay called "Delta Rose." She's currently working on a new legal thriller called "Fall From Grace." Stay tuned.... If you’d like to book a live in studio interview on News 25 Today, just email: tmiles@wxxv25.com. These interviews can have up to two guests, last about two minutes and showcase community events, non-profit organizations and things of interest to people in our area…and they’re FREE! Just send information about your event, including date, time, location, contact number and/or website for viewers wanting more information, along with the proper name and titles of the person or two people who will be interviewed, and Toni or producer Porsha Williams (pwilliams@wxxv25.com) will get back with you via email in a timely manner to book a date. Typical interview times are daily at: 5:45, 6:45, 7:45 or 8:45 am. Guests are asked to arrive about 30 minutes beforehand. You can also ask about booking a live shot on location for news events for our 6 and 7 am newscasts. We look forwarding to having you!

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