Mote Marine Laboratory releases 9 rehabilitated sea turtles on Florida’s east coast

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Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium releases nine rehabilitated sea turtles

Nine endangered Kemp’s ridley sea turtles are returned to the Atlantic Ocean after care at Mote’s Sea Turtle Rehabilitation Hospital

Jan. 4, 2021—Sarasota, Fla.— Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium said a fond farewell to nine juvenile Kemp’s ridley sea turtles today as they were released in New Smyrna at Canaveral National Seashore.

The nine turtles came to Mote’s care after stranding in the Cape Cod region in November during a cold stun event. As ectothermic (commonly called “cold-blooded”) animals, sea turtles are not able to regulate their body temperatures on their own, and when they find themselves in too-cold water, they become lethargic. This can be potentially fatal as their body functions slow down, leaving them susceptible to predators and boat strikes, allowing for algae to grow on their backs, and more.

Since Nov. 21, Mote has received three separate groups of cold stun turtles, totaling over 20 turtles. This year’s cold stun event in New England has caused over 900+ strandings, as networks of volunteers, state and federal agencies, and nonprofits work around the clock to fly the turtles to various rehab facilities across the U.S., including Mote in Sarasota.

After being cleared for release, the nine turtles were given a last physical check and implanted with a PIT tag (passive integrated transponder). These small microchips function much like a pet microchip does, so the animals will be able to identified if they strand again.

Since the turtles originally stranded in the Atlantic Ocean, Mote’s team drove the turtles across the state for release from the east coast of Florida, in New Smyrna at Canaveral National Seashore.

The nicknames of the turtles released today were: Art, Canaan, Douglas, Fraser, Noble, Linus, Peppermint Patty, Schroeder, and Charlie Brown. Read more about each patient, and the other’s remaining in Mote’s care, at The third group of cold stun turtles that arrived at Mote on Dec. 22 are still in critical condition.

Kemp’s ridley sea turtles are considered endangered by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Critically Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources. Kemp’s ridley sea turtles are generally considered the most endangered species of sea turtle, with threats to their population including rising water temperatures, degradation of habitat and nesting areas, and entanglement in marine debris.

Activities conducted under FWC Marine Turtle Permit MTP-20-126.

Mote’s Jenna Rouse walks one of the nine turtles to the water.

The photo above, additional photos, and broll to accompany this release are available here.

Mote staff members and interns on Nov. 21 as they provide emergency care for the first group of cold-stunned Kemp’s ridley sea turtles.

The photos above, additional photos, and broll to accompany this release are available here.

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About Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium

Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium, based in Sarasota, Florida, has conducted marine research since its founding as a small, one-room laboratory in 1955. Since then, Mote has grown to encompass more than 20 research and conservation programs that span the spectrum of marine science: sustainable aquaculture systems designed to alleviate growing pressures on wild fish populations; red tide research that works to inform the public and mitigate the adverse effects of red tide with innovative technologies; marine animal science, conservation and rehabilitation programs dedicated to the protection of animals such as sea turtles, manatees and dolphins; and much more. Mote Aquarium, accredited by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums, is open 365 days per year. Learn more at or connect with @motemarinelab on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

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