Tadpole's Outdoor Blog

August 3, 2013

300 pound turtle

Filed under: Misc — Freddie Keel @ 6:11 am


Beating some long odds, biologists and volunteers this week returned a 300-pound loggerhead sea turtle to the Gulf of Mexico in Galveston.

The endangered turtle was emaciated when discovered on the island’s West Beach in early June, said Lyndsey Howell, research fishery biologist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in Galveston. It was placed on a regimen of fluids, antibiotics, vitamins and antiparasitic drugs and allowed to recuperate in a tank of clean water.

Turtles that size and condition typically take four to six months to recover, but the nameless loggerhead cut that time in half.

“It’s a success story,” Howell said. “We rarely see an animal that big. It’s more challenging to rehabilitate an animal that size and you don’t know what illnesses they’re battling.”

At sunset Wednesday, biologists from NOAA and the Houston Zoo were joined by up to 100 onlookers near Fort Crockett Park at 45th Seawall Boulevard. They stood behind yellow tape and watched the giant turtle inch its way to the surf.

Its return to sea is significant, Howell said, noting that the turtle was tagged and implanted with an ID chip.

“When you take a female out of the population, you’re talking about taking thousands of baby turtles,” she said. “Loggerheads lay their eggs every two to three years, depending on their reproductive success.

“They’ll lay eggs up to seven times in one year,” she said, “and they can have anywhere from 130 to 170 eggs in each one of those nests.”

Howell estimates that the unnamed turtle is between 30 to 70 years old.

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