Number of ‘wash back’ baby sea turtles found in Brevard nears 1,000
COCOA BEACH —
Hundreds of baby sea turtles, washed back ashore due to Hurricane Matthew, are still being found along coastlines in Brevard County. Residents in the area are coming together to help rescue these endangered creatures.
- Sea Turtle Preservation Society has found nearly 1,000 wash backs
- Educating the public on handling found washed-back turtles critical
- Residents urged not to put found turtles back in the water
Sarah Smith, a volunteer helping out the Sea Turtle Preservation Society, said she’s found 46 washed-back baby sea turtles in the past two days.
“These little guys are the survivors that make it all the way out there, and then they get washed back in, so as I walk I’m just trying to save as many as I can, » said Smith.
Since Hurricane Matthew, the Sea Turtle Preservation Society has found nearly 1,000 washed-back turtles, and more continue to come in daily.
“I moved here 8 years ago and I’ve never seen anything like this, » said Dave Cheney, a member of the Society’s Board of Directors. « I don’t think their has been an event of this nature here before”
That’s one reason members are trying to educate the public on how to handle them.
« If you do find one of these guys on the beach don’t put them back in the water, » said Cheney. « You want to bring them to one of the drop off locations. Putting these baby turtles back in the water could prove fatal […] they’re pretty weak and they’re air breathing, so if you put them back in water they’re likely to drown.”
With wind speeds staying consistent over the next few days, the Society expects to see more washed back ashore. For now, they’re extending the wash back alert through Sunday, specifically for the Cocoa Beach Area.
Over the past few days, the Society has been transporting these wash backs to the Brevard Zoo. There, they’ll be placed in a rehab program until they can be released back into the wild.
The preservation society told us that currently they’re seeing a 75 percent survival rate.