Rehabilitated turtles return to the Gulf

An Atlantic green sea turtle is ready to be released into the Gulf of Mexico as Sea Tutle Inc Director Jeff George shows the turtle to a large crowd on South Padre Island as volunteers and staff help release them during a public event at Isla Blanca Park.

SOUTH PADRE ISLAND — More than 100 people gathered Wednesday at Isla Blanca Park on South Padre Island to witness the release of seven rehabilitated Atlantic green sea turtles.

The turtles were rescued, treated and released into the Gulf of Mexico by officials at Sea Turtle Inc., a nonprofit turtle rescue and rehabilitation center on the Island.

The turtles — named Dante, Lizzo, JAAMS, Stout, Cinderblock, Rainbow and Nickelback — were all Atlantic green sea turtles that were at the facility for different reasons, such as being stuck in rocks or being hooked accidentally by fishermen.

“ The turtles came in for various reasons,” said Nina Nahvi, licensed veterinarian at Sea Turtle Inc. “They were at the hospital for various amounts of times. Some of them were there for months, and others for just a couple of weeks.”

Nahvi said Dante was at the facility the longest, being admitted there in August. He was recovering from wounds. Other turtles were there for shorter periods of time, such as only two weeks.

“ All the turtles get blood work done, X-rays, medication — everything like that,” she said. “And all of them were more than ready to go back home.”

The ones that were at the center for the shortest period were Cinderblock and Rainbow.

“ They came in about two weeks ago, both hooked by fishermen accidentally,” Nahvi said. “It is a nice sunny day, and they are ready to go home.”

Sea Turtle Inc. was founded in 1977 by Ila Fox Loetscher, better known as “The Turtle Lady of South Padre Island.” In 1999, Sea Turtle, Inc. moved from Ila’s backyard into its current location at 6617 Padre Blvd.

Originally, this organization was formed to aid in the protection and recovery of the endangered Kemp’s ridley sea turtle. Their mission has since expanded to include other sea turtles. The group’s current mission includes three parts: education, rehabilitation and conservation, the official website reads.

Today, Sea Turtle, Inc. is a 501(C)(3) nonprofit that is funded through public donations and on-site gift shop sales. They do not receive any government funding.

For more information about future events, log on to seaturtleinc.org or call (956) 761-4511.

nreyna@brownsvilleherald.com