Sea turtle conservation at Mississippi Aquarium
November 23, 2021
Mississippi Aquarium's Three Mission Pillars are Education, Conservation and Community.
Our commitment to endangered sea turtles covers all three pillars. The Aquarium is constantly using education as a way to bring awareness to the plight of endangered sea turtles. And releasing sea turtles that were injured has become a favorite community event.
This is a spotlight on some of the conservation efforts at Mississippi Aquarium to help endangered sea turtles.
From Dr. Alexa Delaune
Vice President of Veterinary Services, Mississippi Aquarium
Banner was initially listed as a male but we thought that the turtle appeared to be more female based on external features like a short tail and lack of claws on the front flippers. The Mississippi Aquarium vet team performed an endoscopic procedure and visualized the gonads to confirm that Banner is a female.
Banner is non-releasable because her boat-strike injuries caused damage that make her positively buoyant in her hind end. Recently, the buoyancy was getting more severe, so Banner was taken to Singing River Hospital Gulfport for a CT scan. During that scan, we were able to see that there was a lot of gas built up in Banner’s intestines so we put her on a medication to reduce the gas in the intestines. It seems to be helping because she’s spending more time diving and resting on the bottom. We won’t be able to cure the problem but we can manage it to make sure it doesn’t get worse.
MSAQ is a member of the Sea Turtle Stranding and Salvage Network run by NOAA. If NOAA or other colleagues need help with stranded turtles we will help as best we can. Recently, we were asked to take in a loggerhead sea turtle that was hooked on a pier in Alabama. The turtle came to us in very rough shape with five visible hooks, three more hooks and fishing gear internally, and a severe shell fracture. We did the best we could to help her, removing hooks, cleaning her wound, giving her stabilizing medications, and getting a CT scan to evaluate the extent of her injuries. Unfortunately, the turtle died after a few days. When we did a post mortem examination, we discovered she had three places in her small intestine that were cut open due to fishing gear/hooks and her intestines were all bunched up from the fishing line, causing them to die. While we could not save this sea turtle, we will use her case to teach people about the dangers of boat injuries and fishing gear ingestion to sea turtles.
Currently, we have two Kemp’s ridley sea turtles in our care. They were rehabilitated by the New England Aquarium in Massachusetts. In preparation for their busy stranding season, they wanted to make room for new turtles so they asked if we could take these turtles for the remainder of their rehab stay. One of the turtles has an infection in the shoulder, causing him to lose range of motion in the joint. The other has a severe lung infection. Both turtles are on medications and doing very well at this time. When they have completed their medical treatment we will release them here in the Gulf of Mexico.
Kemp's Conservator relaunch
Mississippi Aquarium and Chandeleur Island Brewing Company have joined forces once again to relaunch a popular craft beer promoting the conservation efforts of endangered species, including sea turtles.
Kemp’s Conservator was created to raise awareness around the threatened and endangered species of sea turtles. Proceeds from beer sales and Conservation Series branded items will go directly towards the great efforts to protect this vital species.