Too often good news about endangered species seems no where to be found. But recently, the Kemp’s ridley sea turtle, the most endangered species of sea turtle, had one heck of a day.
Five of the turtles who were taken in for rehabilitation by the Institute for Marine Mammal Studies in 2012 were released into the wild. Chipper, Sunshine, Garfield, Nicky and Diva all made their way back into the ocean. The Kemp’s ridleys had another endangered friend who was released at the same time, a green sea turtle.
But the two species will probably split up quite quickly. Wildlife ecologist Jonathan Pitchford said, “I always like to tell people when you release a Kemp’s Ridleys they kind of move away real slow, kind of easily, when you release a Green they kind of take off fast. So it’s kind of fun to release both but the Greens are definitely faster.”
One of the turtles was fitted with a tracking device. Not just scientists will be able to follow his path. Chipper, named after Pass Christian Mayor Chipper McDermott, will be trackable over the Institute’s website, although he hasn’t been added to the site just yet.
Topping out at about 100 pounds, Kemp’s ridleys are the smallest sea turtle, and they were actually improving their population numbers before the BP oil spill which set the animal’s back. But the real threat to this species? Being caught as by-catch in trawls, gill nets, longlines as well as other types of fishing gear.