rescue

NOAA, Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries and Audubon Nature Institute Return Sea Turtles to Gulf Waters

Release Date: 10/21/2010

Scientists from NOAA, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries and the Audubon Nature Institute joined with Coast Guard Rear Admiral Roy A. Nash today to return 32 sea turtles to Gulf of Mexico waters offshore of Louisiana. This is the first release of rehabilitated sea turtles to the waters near where they were rescued from oil more than three months ago-after extensive analysis to determine that the area is clean and a safe habitat for the turtles.
 
“Today’s release would not have been possible if all the partners had not worked tirelessly during the oil spill to search for, rescue and rehabilitate the sea turtles,” said Jane Lubchenco, Ph.D., under secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator. “We are able to release these turtles because they’re now healthy and we’re seeing recovery in the surface habitats of the Gulf of Mexico. They are being released within federal waters off the coast of Louisiana that earlier this month, NOAA reopened to fishing. This was another important sign of improvement in the health of the Gulf of Mexico.”
 
Scientists selected the release location, approximately 40 miles southwest of Grand Isle, La., after conducting thorough aerial and shipboard surveys earlier this week to locate clean sargassum algae habitat for the sea turtles. Young sea turtles, such as those released today, spend the early years of their lives swimming and feeding in large floating sargassum algae mats that form in convergence zones where currents meet. Sargassum mats provide protection for turtles from predators as well as a variety of prey for food, including small crabs, snails and other creatures.
 
“I am excited to see these turtles returned to the waters from which they had been rescued during the spill – they’re going home today,” said Rear Adm. Nash, deputy federal on-scene coordinator for the ongoing clean-up operations. “Today’s release is possible because of the efforts of many to rehabilitate the turtles, and to ensure the Gulf waters are ready for their return. This is an encouraging sign that the Gulf of Mexico is recovering.”
 
The 33 turtles released today included species of green, Kemp’s ridley, hawksbill and loggerhead sea turtles. Green, Kemp’s ridley and hawksbill sea turtles are listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act. Loggerheads are currently listed as threatened.
 
“For our staff, today has been long-awaited. Returning sea turtles to waters off the Louisiana coast is evidence of the incredible partnership between our biologists and enforcement agents, and our partnerships with local and federal agencies. Not only did our staff dedicate long days for months on end to the search, rescue and recovery of sea turtles and mammals, but they were committed even when the required tasks went above and beyond their jobs,” said Randy Pausina, Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries assistant secretary for the state’s office of fisheries. “Returning this group of sea turtles to their home waters is more than a great achievement for all of our dedicated staff, it is a sign that Louisiana is on the path towards recovery.”
 
The turtles released today were rescued by teams from NOAA, LDWF, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Georgia Department of Natural Resources, the Riverhead Foundation and the In-Water Research Group. The turtles received extensive treatment and care, including cleaning and de-oiling, at the Audubon Nature Institute outside New Orleans.
 
"Six months ago, it was nearly impossible to imagine this day would ever come," said Ron Forman, president and CEO of the Audubon Nature Institute. "Audubon is privileged to have played a key role in this remarkable recovery. Words can't begin to describe how proud I am of our team and their incredible effort in rehabilitating nearly 200 turtles."
 
More than 500 live turtles were rescued during the Gulf oil spill and about 400 heavily oiled turtles were placed in rehabilitation. Those not placed in rehabilitation were immediately released in healthy surface habitats because they were lightly oiled and did not require rehabilitation, Today’s release brings to 270 the number of rehabilitated turtles that have been returned to the Gulf of Mexico. The turtles remaining in rehabilitation facilities will be released as they are given clean bills of health.
 
NOAA’s mission is to understand and predict changes in the Earth's environment, from the depths of the ocean to the surface of the sun, and to conserve and manage our coastal and marine resources. Visit us at http://www.noaa.gov or on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/usnoaagov .

 

For more information, contact Olivia Watkins at or owatkins@wlf.la.gov.

2010-293

L.D.W.F. Agents Rescue Four Men in Timbalier Bay

Release Date: 09/30/2010

Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) Enforcement Division agents rescued four crewmen from a sinking commercial shrimp boat on Sept. 29 in Timbalier Bay.
 
Agents responded to a distress call yesterday afternoon from the "Hippy Boy", which was located west of Belle Pass and taking on water.
 
Upon arrival, agents observed the 45-foot vessel resting low in the water, listing on the starboard side with waves crashing on the deck. The agents also observed four crewmen gathered on the vessel's highest point and signaling to be rescued.
 
Agents maneuvered their 32-foot patrol vessel to the port rear quarter of the "Hippy Boy" while dodging nets that were drifting near the vessel. One agent boarded the "Hippy Boy" to ensure that all of the crew were uninjured and assisted them into the patrol vessel.  The "Hippy Boy" eventually sank and remains in approximately eight feet of water.
 
The four crewmen safely rescued were Lenh Thach, 45, Phuong Tu Tran, 56, Tin Huu Mai, 43, all of Gretna, and Tuan Tran, 41, of Beaumont, Texas. Agents transported the four crewmen to the Fourchon Harbor Police to be evaluated and reunited with their families.
 
The cause of the vessel sinking has not yet been determined.
 
Agents participating in the rescue were Sgt. Ezekiel Talbert and Agent Ronnie Engelhard.
 
For more information, contact Adam Einck at 225-765-2465 or aeinck@wlf.la.gov.

 

2010-277

Rehabilitated Brown Pelicans Released at Rabbit Island in Cameron Parish

Release Date: 08/04/2010

State and federal biologists today released the first brown pelicans back into Louisiana coastal habitat since rescue and rehabilitation operations began following the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

The 15 pelicans were transported from the Bird Rehabilitation Center in Hammond and carefully off loaded on to Rabbit Island by Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) biologists, US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) biologists and representatives from the International Bird Rescue and Rehabilitation Center.

"We are pleased to see our state bird being returned to the coastal zone and applaud the efforts of the biologists who captured the distressed birds and the rehabilitation specialists who work diligently to ensure their survival," said Robert Barham, LDWF  secretary.

Rabbit Island, within Calcasieu Lake, was selected as the release point due to its inland, southwestern Louisiana location which has not been impacted by any oil for the duration of the spill incident. The Cameron Parish location provides 220 acres inhabited by laughing gulls, brown pelicans, and a mix of wading birds that includes roseate spoonbills, herons and egrets.

For photos of today's event go to:

 

http://www.wlf.louisiana.gov/oilspill/gallery

Since bird rescue and rehab began in April, 611 brown and white pelicans have been rescued alive in Louisiana.  248 have been successfully rehabilitated and released back into the wild in Texas, Florida, Georgia, and now Louisiana.

For more information related to Louisiana's response to the oil spill, visit http://www.emergency.louisiana.gov

For more information, contact Bo Boehringer at bboehringer@wlf.la.gov or 225/756-5115.

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