IMMS returns two sea turtles back into the MS Sound

As the year 2020 wraps up, it also marks new beginnings and a new lease on life for two sea turtles rescued and rehabbed by the caretakers at the Institute for Marine Mammal Studies in Gulfport.

The turtles were released into the Mississippi Sound and will be used to collect critical date in a groundbreaking study.

A tale of two turtles. One: a male green sea turtle that came under the care of the Institute for Marine Mammal Studies in Gulfport two years ago. “There was a baseball cap wrapped around his front flipper, and he actually had a fracture to that flipper.”

Another, a rare female Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtle on her last leg when she landed on the IMMS operating table back in August.

It was the worst of times as the team, alongside an MSU veterinarian, performed sophisticated surgery to remove a life-threatening fish hook.

Then the best of times. “We were able to successfully remove that and treat her here.”

Dr. Debra Moore said, “Her rehabilitation is critically important in getting her back out so she can contribute to the population.”

And contribute she likely will. “We’ve been able to successfully rehabilitate them, and they are ready for their release back into the water.”

After a boat ride south, a change of scenery, just south of Horn Island, where IMMS researchers tested the waters figuratively and literally.

Then the moment all had been waiting for including these newly named turtles. “The green sea turtle we have named Magnolia, and the Kemp’s Ridley turtle we have named after yours truly Toni.”

But the story doesn’t end here, Magnolia and Toni will be starring in a reality show of sorts with a twist: one used for scientific purposes, research and data collection for all the world to see. Stranding Coordinator Theresa Madrigal said, “These two turtles have satellite transmitters attached to the back of their shells so every time they come up to take a breath, it will transmit a signal to satellite, so we will be able to track where they’re going. If you follow on our website, it’s going to be on IMMS.org/followourturtles.”

A bittersweet release, a few covert tears, and a turnaround as these IMMS workers made their journey home all the while scanning the horizon knowing there’s still work to be done.

Categories: Featured, Harrison County, Local News, News