Thirteen endangered Kemp’s ridley sea turtles will be released in front of Edgewater Mall

Turtle Release1

GULFPORT, Miss. — Mississippi Aquarium team members will release 13 endangered Kemp’s ridley sea turtles into the Mississippi Sound at 4 p.m. on Thursday, May 25, on the beach in front of Edgewater Mall in Biloxi.

The release represents a milestone for Mississippi Aquarium which will release its 100th Kemp’s ridley sea turtle during the event.

Twelve of the turtles are the third wave to be released from a group which were cold-stunned and flown to Mississippi in Dec. 2022. Originally triaged by New England Aquarium, the turtles were flown to Mississippi Aquarium via Turtles Fly Too to receive further rehabilitation. Since the turtle’s arrival, animal care, facilities and veterinary teams have been working in concert to return these Kemp’s ridley turtles back to full health and into the wild.

The additional Kemp’s ridley being released, nicknamed Mist, has been undergoing treatment at Mississippi Aquarium since Oct. 2021. Mist contracted, Mycobacterium chelonae, a difficult-to-treat pathogen that is common in aquatic animals after being cold-stunned in Dec. 2020.

“Cold stunning in sea turtles happens when the water rapidly drops in temperature.  The turtles then become debilitated and stranded,” said Dr. Alexa Delaune vice president of veterinary services and research at Mississippi Aquarium. “Common problems include pneumonia, bone infections, gastrointestinal disturbances, and frost bite. Mist’s infection was severe and required long-term and intensive treatment.”

After Thursday’s release, Mississippi Aquarium staff will have released 102 Kemp’s ridley sea turtles since opening in Aug. 2020. Thursday’s release comes on the heels of World Turtle Day which is observed May 23 each year.  The public is invited to view the release.

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