Rare Kemp’s ridley sea turtle rescued off pier

An endangered sea turtle hooked April 13 on Navarre Beach Fishing Pier is set to make a full recovery thanks to stellar response by our pier staff. This was the first sea turtle rescue of the upcoming sea turtle nesting season, which officially starts May 1.

The rescued turtle was barely bigger than a dinner plate and too cute. The juvenile is one of the rarest, most endangered species of turtle: a Kemp’s ridley sea turtle. There are only 2,500 breeding females of this species in the wild. The turtle had been hooked in the right flipper, but the hook came out without difficulty.

The turtle was transported to Gulfarium C.A.R.E. Center for recovery. Gulfarium gave the rescued turtle the nickname Buckbeak.

Buckbeak’s name comes from the “Harry Potter” fans will recognize the turtle’s namesake, the infamous hippogriff that rescues Sirius Black. Looking at Buckbeak, the resemblance in their beaks is pretty spot on.

While Navarre’s Buckbeak will not be flying away like his namesake, he swam away in a successful release April 23.

Kemp’s ridleys are one of four turtle species that frequent Navarre Beach, especially during nesting season which begins May 1 and runs through the end of October in our area.

Already there have been several sightings of a leatherback sea turtle off the pier, another rarity. These are the largest sea turtle species in the world. In 2017, Navarre Beach saw its first leatherback nest on record.

Kemp’s ridleys like Buckbeak are also uncommon, but several have been spotted. Navarre Beach also plays host to green and loggerhead species commonly each year.

To help protect turtles, give nesting moms lots of space. Other tips to ensure turtle safety:

  • Do not make noise
  • Do not approach or touch the turtle
  • Do not use flash or close-up photography
  • Stay back and behind the nesting turtle at all times
  • Do not use lights as they can disorient the turtle

It is against state and federal law to harass a sea turtle or disturb a nest.

Kemp’s ridleys are especially at risk for disruption because they are the only species of sea turtle that nests predominantly during daylight. If you are lucky enough to spot one of our nesting turtles, congrats! But do your part to protect these animals by staying back.

Lights can disorient turtles, so keep them off at night and only use red lights when absolutely necessary. These lights have less of an impact on the turtles.

Items should also be removed from the beach between sunset and sunrise. It is against county ordinance to leave items on the beach overnight.

By doing your part we can ensure these animals are here for years to come. Come learn about sea turtles and get up close with them at the Navarre Beach Sea Turtle Conservation Center. Book your stay at NavarreListings.com.

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