Release will be held at 9 a.m. Wednesday at Henderson Beach State Park in Destin.
Gulfarium's C.A.R.E. Center has announced the planned release of five rehabilitated juvenile Green sea turtles. Parsley, Serrano, Basil, Celery and Phyll are scheduled to be released into the Gulf of Mexico at 9 a.m. Wednesday. The public is invited to attend and observe the special occasion at Henderson Beach State Park in Destin.
All five turtles are smaller in size, averaging 28 pounds. They will be walked several feet into the water, beyond the surf, and released.
Parsley arrived on June 14 at Gulf World Marine Institute after being hooked in the mouth at Russell Fields Pier in Panama City Beach. The GWMI staff removed fishing line wrapped around the right front flipper and a hook present in the left front flipper. Radiographs showed two internal hooks in the esophagus that could not be easily removed.
The sea turtle was then transported to Gulfarium's C.A.R.E Center for surgery, which was conducted June 19. The two hooks embedded in the esophagus and additional small hook fragments from the flipper were removed successfully.
"Fortunately, there was little fishing line attached to the hooks that were removed. Fishing line can often cause more severe damage to the digestive tract than the hooks themselves," said Dr. Rebecca Wells, the Gulfarium's veterinarian. "The incisions are healing appropriately and we are pleased with Parsley's progress."
Serrano arrived on June 20. This sea turtle was hooked in the right front flipper at Navarre Beach Fishing Pier. The proper authorities were notified as a result of a cooperative agreement with the pier. Flipper tags were present on this turtle as part of a research project by the University of Florida.
The hook in the flipper, along with an older one present in the back left flipper, were removed. Radiographs indicated a hook in the esophagus that was then surgically removed as well.
Basil also was hooked at Navarre Beach Fishing Pier and delivered to the C.A.R.E. Center on July 2. The hook was in the front left flipper and carefully removed. Fortunately, no further evidence of illness or fishing gear were identified.
Celery was rehabilitated almost a year ago after getting tangled in fishing gear at the Okaloosa Island Fishing Pier on July 27, 2016. Fishing line nearly severed Celery's right front flipper. The fishing line was removed just in time and the flipper was able to heal.
On July 6 of this year, Celery got into trouble again, only this time at the Navarre Beach Fishing Pier. Celery's right front flipper still shows the scars from last year's wound, as well as smaller fresh injuries. Luckily, Celery's exam did not show any ingested fishing gear. The hook was carefully removed, and Celery's small wounds will heal over time.
The smallest of the group, Phyll was hooked on the top part of its shell at Navarre Beach Fishing Pier. The initial exam indicated no visible damage and no evidence of internal trauma. Phyll arrived at the C.A.R.E. Center on July 16.
"It is easy to see that the agreements with local fishing piers are making an important impact," Dr. Wells said. "We not only are able to remove fresh hooks but also are able to intervene earlier to identify and remove internal hooks before they can cause serious illness or death in this threatened species."