Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtles Returned This Morning

release three kemps ridleys

After a several months of rehabilitation after cold stress, three Kemp’s Ridley sea turtles were medically cleared and returned to Playalinda Beach at Canaveral Seashore this morning (June 27, 2013).

Two of the turtles had pneumonia and the third had a small wound to its carapace (shell). According to SeaWorld, “The Kemp’s Ridley sea turtles measured approximately 70 centimeters in length and weighed 7 – 10 pounds, all gaining approximately 3-6 pounds” while at SeaWorld.

The turtles were part of a group of 36 brought to SeaWorld Orlando by the U.S. Coast Guard on December 23, 2012 from Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Of the 36, this release marks a total of 34 of them being returned to the sea.

SeaWorld Kemp's RidleySo far this year, SeaWorld Orlando has rescued 45 sea turtles and returned 35.

If you see an injured marine animal, you can help by calling the
FWC hotline at 1(888) 404-3922 or by dialing *FWC on a cellular device.

All turtle rescue footage produced by SeaWorld under FWS Permit Number MA7701911

SeaWorld Busch Gardens Conservation Fund — Ewaso Lion Project

Julie Scardina, Animal Ambassador for SeaWorld, Busch Gardens and Discovery Cove, has been to every continent visiting the various projects supported through the SeaWorld Busch Gardens Conservation Fund. She took time out of her busy schedule for an interview. This is the first in a series of articles on projects funded by the SWBGCF.

Ewaso Lion Cubs

Close your eyes and think of Africa. Think of the animals roaming… the orange hues of the setting sun… magnificent beasts waiting to pounce. No doubt in your mind you imagined a lion stalking his prey, crouching, waiting. Maybe you pictured one sleeping lazily with cubs nearby, adorable, and yet formidable. The lion, proud, powerful, elegant… the very symbol of a continent. And yet, according to The Ewaso Lions project, they may be extinct in Kenya in 20 years. Today, a mere 2,000 lions live in Kenya with only  40,000 in all of Africa.

“The African lion population has declined by 30-50% in the past 20 years
and lions have disappeared from at least 83% of their historical range in Africa.”¹

There are many reasons the lion population is decreasing: loss of habitat, conflict issues, and even trophy hunting take their toll, as does population growth and, with it, increased numbers of cattle.

To accurately assess how serious the problem is, and to help stop the lion population decline, the Ewaso Lions Project² was founded in 2007 by Shivani Bhalla, a Kenyan national who worked previously with the Save the Elephants foundation in Samburu.

Ewaso Lions project

Julie Scardina and Shivani Bhalla venture to the Samburu Reserve

Tag and measure lion Ewaso Lion projectJulie Scardina has visited Shivani Bhalla and her team, at the Ewaso Lion project. They are “collaring and measuring the lions,” says Scardina, “and finding out the areas where they roam and where they live to find out what they need, specifically, in order to increase their population.” Identifying human/animal clashes is another important mission of the project.

Shivani Bhalla takes local children, many of whom who have NEVER seen a lion, on photo safaris as part of the Ewaso Lion education program. Photo courtesy Ewaso Lions

Education is key in avoiding and reducing conflict, Scardina emphasizes. The project “helps create more awareness about the benefits of having predators in the landscape… that having wildlife, in general, helps an environment and an ecosystem to thrive.” This idea is contrary to what many believe. Some see the wild animals as competing with their livestock and a threat to their way of life. “In reality the ecosystem is healthier” when each level of the food chain is present.

Without predators, there is no culling of the weak, injured, sick and old members of the prey population. Adds Julie, “If it’s not the strongest breeding, you’re breeding a weaker species which isn’t going to be able to compete with other—even grazers—in the future.”

Photo courtesy Ewaso Lions

To help educate the community, Bhalla employs mostly local scouts including Samburu warriors from the area. These tribesmen have learned how to use GPS and other tracking devices, as well as using “camera traps” and keeping notes on animal activity.

People in this region are responding to the message of conservation. Young men who previously killed wildlife are now passionate supporters since learning the integral connection between them and their native land.

Warrior Watch, Ewaso Lion Project

Samburu Warriors did not, at first, understand how conservation would benefit them. Now they protect wildlife in the bush. Photo courtesy Ewaso Lions

The message to the locals is, “they need not fear or dislike lions,” says Scardina, “they have true value… and are part of their heritage and their history, and ultimately their future. Lions represent the strength, and the bravery, and the courage of their warriors. They learn that they can protect their prized possessions [cattle] and keep their loved ones safe. It is, in a way, harder in the short run  to live with predators in your area, but they realize in the long run… if they didn’t help and participate… that it would be a very different future for their community and for their children.”

Click here to see a video highlighting the Ewaso Lion Project.

The next time you are at one of the SeaWorld Parks, consider donating to the SeaWorld Busch Bardens Conservation Fund, or click on the link on this page. All money, one hundred percent, goes to partners in the field.

¹Ewaso Lion Project, website.

² For the past few years, funded in part by a grant made possible through contributions to the SeaWorld Busch Gardens Conservation Fund.

Loggerhead Turtle Rehabilitated and Soon To Be Released Thanks to SeaWorld

This is one of the many turtles rescued and rehabilitated by the SeaWorld team.

I’m so excited that the sea turtle that had a 4-inch-long hook in its throat will be returning home to the waters of Cocoa Beach soon! Thank you SeaWorld and Inwater Research Group for finding and taking care of this beautiful animal and to the vets who removed the hook and helped it make a quick recovery!

SeaWorld Rehab Teams Are Ready to Roll when and where an animal needs them.

“The turtle, a sub-adult weighing approximately 100 pounds, was rescued from the intake canal at the St. Lucie Power Plant in St. Lucie County, Fla. The animal arrived at SeaWorld Orlando February 26 and immediately underwent surgery following x-rays and blood work procedures. Vets removed a 4 inch-long fish hook, and after a speedy recovery, the turtle is now ready to be released back into the wild.

The loggerhead was found by the Inwater Research Group – an organization committed to the research and conservation of coastal species and habitats – who also assisted in the animal’s transport.

According to SeaWorld veterinarians, the fishing hook was one of the largest the team has removed to date. To help protect this threatened species, make sure fishing line and all trash is disposed of properly. When fishing, use new “circle” hooks – turtles are less likely to swallow the circle-shaped hooks than traditional J-shaped, which cause suffocation or internal bleeding when swallowed. Also, if a sea turtle’s nest is seen, please contact authorities.

This year, SeaWorld Orlando has rescued nine sea turtles. For 45 years, SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment has helped animals in need — ill, injured and orphaned. More than 20,000 animals have been rescued by our experts.‪ SeaWorld’s animal rescue team is on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. ‪”