SOUTH PADRE ISLAND — The blazing noon temperatures didn’t seem to faze the crowds from witnessing the release of one of the Valley’s most beloved sea creatures.
Sea Turtle Inc. released Kilo, a 100-pound loggerhead, yesterday near Cameron County Beach Access Three.
The loggerhead was rescued by Sea Turtle Inc. personnel in June after being hooked by a fisherman at the Port Mansfield channel over the jetties.
“From time to time, fishermen hook turtles, and I happened to be in the right place at the right time,” said Shelby Bessette, a nesting patroller and Coastal Studies Lab employee.
Bessette came across Kilo while she was searching the beach for nests.
“A fisherman flagged me down and I had a feeling it probably wasn’t as healthy as it should be because there were so many barnacles on the turtle,” she explained. “I could tell it needed to go in for rehab so I called Jeff George from Sea Turtle Inc., and we rescued it.”
Bessette said Kilo made a great turnaround during its rehabilitation.
Upon taking Kilo to the facility, Sea Turtle Inc. personnel discovered Kilo was anemic and had a very low red blood count so the sea turtle was then given months of iron treatments, antibiotics and fluids.
“It wasn’t eating properly and hadn’t had a good meal in a long time,” she explained. “So after being in rehab all summer, it’s great to see Kilo all strengthened up and ready to go live the rest of its life.”
Sarahi Ocampo, 24, along with her family, watched Kilo’s release and said they have been traveling to Sea Turtle Inc. from Austin for the past few years.
“We really enjoy visiting the turtles, reading their stories and seeing the progress they’ve made,” she said. “This was our first time seeing a turtle be released and it was beautiful.”
Ocampo said seeing the sea turtles is something she and her family love to do every year.
“I really recommend people experience this because it’s amazing, and you get to learn so much about sea turtles,” she said.
In addition to a crowd filled with dozens of excited beachgoers, members from CPL Retail Energy attended Kilo’s release to present a $10,000 check to Sea Turtle Inc.
Melissa Hand, CPL Retail Energy’s External Relations Manager, said the company decided to donate because they want to help Sea Turtle Inc.’s initiative of rehabilitating and releasing sea turtles back into the ocean.
“We’ve been in the Valley for more than 100 years supplying electricity, and we came to look for nonprofits that were really doing a lot of goodwill in the community,” Hand explained. “So, we thought the sea turtles needed our help just like any of the other great charities down here.”
Jeff George, Sea Turtle Inc.’s Executive Director, said it never ceases to amaze him how generous the community is to Sea Turtle Inc.
“We’ve always been funded by the public, and we have been blessed for the past 42 years to have such tremendous support from our community, tourists, city and county,” George said.
Receiving the donation came as a surprise to Sea Turtle Inc.
“This came out of the blue,” George explained. “We weren’t expecting it, and it’s just another example of how blessed we are.”
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW
– Sea Turtle Inc. released a 100-pound loggerhead sea turtle Monday.
– Kilo, the loggerhead, was rescued in June after it was hooked by a fisherman.
– Beachgoers who come across nests or stranded sea turtles are encouraged to call Sea Turtle Inc.’s emergency hotline at (956) 243-4361.