Sea turtles released after rehab from pneumonia, fish hook

November 26, 2019 GMT

GULFPORT, Miss. (AP) — Two endangered sea turtles are swimming again in the Mississippi Sound after rehabilitation in south Mississippi. One is a 115-pound (52.1-kilogram) loggerhead that developed pneumonia while a Louisiana spillway was open. The other is a Kemp’s ridley that needed throat surgery after it swallowed a fisherman’s hook.

Dr. Moby Solangi of the Institute for Marine Mammal Studies in Gulfport attached satellite tags to the turtles before releasing them on Monday, news outlets reported. The tags will send a signal each time a turtle comes up to breathe, pinpointing its location.

“Knowing their position, we will know what part of the habitat they are using 24/7. Only the animals can tell us if this home is safe for them,” Solangi told WXXV-TV.

The Bonnet Carré Spillway above New Orleans was open for a record 123 days this year to protect the city’s levees from high water. It feeds into Lake Ponchartrain, through which the deluge of fresh water reached the Mississippi Sound.

Scientists believe that contributed to an estimated 200 turtle deaths this year.

“What we’ve gone through in 2019 with the spillway and water quality issues, the number of turtle deaths has been double the average for the state,” Paul Mickle, chief scientific officer for the state Department of Marine Resources, told WLOX- TV.

The institute’s website describes the turtles released Monday and their treatment.