A Kemp Ridley Sea Turtle is an endangered species that can grow up to 2 feet long. That is all I knew about the animal I heard was going to be released.
On Tuesday July 22nd, a SeaWorld Animal Care Team Member with a few support staff in a full size SeaRescue van, drove almost 2 hours from their facility at SeaWorld Orlando, where they would release the Kemp Ridley Sea Turtle back into the Ocean.
I watched the Sea Rescue van drive up to the beach, and I was instantly filled with excitement, since this would be my first time seeing the release of a Sea Turtle.
When they opened the van doors, and brought out a little crate, I got emotionally choked up, because this small juvenile Sea Turtle’s life was worth the full attention and care of the these incredible Animal Care specialists.
Once the Turtle was out of the van it was carefully carried to the beach, where the sun was rising.
Months ago when SeaWorld first took this animal in, it was lethargic, slow, barely moving and starving. SeaWorld’s Animal Care team hydrated it, fed it, brought it back to health, not for the benefit of the company, not for the pleasure of the paying public, but simply for the pleasure of helping an animal in need.
Since the Kemp Ridley Sea Turtles are endangered, and scientists believe there are less than 1,000 breeding females left, every Kemp Ridley Sea Turtle matters.
Soon the animal was out of the crate, and one final inspection was made to verify the animal was healthy and ready for the open ocean.
With a clean bill of health, the turtle was walked out to deeper water, and set down, and without looking back, the turtle swam off into the blue horizon.
As the turtle was swimming off, a summer school group, gathered on the beach, and were able to ask the SeaWorld team about the release, and how they too can become more actively involved in conservation.
July 20th – 26th is National Zookeeper week, and while this story is about a release that was performed by SeaWorld Orlando’s team, zoos and aquariums (both for profit and non-profit) are on the front lines of conservation. They are the ones battling the clock to save the lives of animals in need.
Contrary to what some may believe AwesomeOcean isn’t condemning Animal Rights Extremists because of some finical arraignment, or some Bond Villain conspiracy theory. We here at Awesome Ocean believe that actions speak far louder than hashtags. And we celebrate that!
A point of fact, the Hashtag “#EmptyTheTanks” has not rescued one animal. The statement “Watch #BlackFish” did not feed a rescued animal. Copy and pasting memes, and holding cardboard signs outside a SeaWorld did not lead to this turtle having a second chance at life.
Everyday heroes gave this turtle a second chance at life. The Mom and Dad on their once in a lifetime trip, the local floridian with an annual pass, the conventioneer who had a few hours. These are the everyday heroes. Their supporting of SeaWorld (or any accredited zoo or Marine Park for that matter) paid the salary of the animal care team, paid for the medical facilities, x-rays, MRIs, around the clock care, food and shelter for months, just so that on a quiet Tuesday morning this small Kemp Ridley Sea Turtle could simply be released back into the ocean.
So now I call on you to take action and support your local accredited zoos, aquariums, and marine parks to learn about their rescue programs, volunteer with them, and be that everyday hero that will allow for this work to continue.