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Turtle releases can be bittersweet for turtle rehabbers

Posted at 9:33 PM, Nov 02, 2019
and last updated 2019-11-03 11:22:02-05

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — The University of Texas Marine Science Institute's Amos Rehabilitation Keep released six turtles Saturday morning.

For the people who rehab these turtles, the releases are somewhat bittersweet.

Alicia Walker is the Program Coordinator over at the Amos Rehabilitation Keep (ARK) in Port Aransas and she spends a lot of time with the turtles.

"Being a rehabber is a difficult job but it is the most rewarding job on the planet. There are hard days where the turtles don't have the best outcome" Walker said.

And then there are days like Saturday, when their patients get released, and Alicia says those days make it all worth while.

The Amos Rehabilitation Keep has worked to rehab nearly 350 turtles this year. Their goal is to get them healthy and move them from the tanks, back into the ocean.

"It's difficult but it's happy so it's kind of bittersweet. We spend so much time with them. We get to know their little personality quirks, what foods they like, and then they get to go free. And it's a scary world but you know that is a better life than being stuck here." Walker said.

While they help the turtles, the turtles help them too.

"There are a lot of days where you have a hard day and you go spend some time next to the turtle tank and they're swimming around and you see their little happy faces and your problems don't seem as big."

The rehabbers at the ARK get to know turtles like Firecracker, a loggerhead who arrived at the ark in August.

He was found with a boat strike injury and an injured front flipper.

But in order to be released, turtles only need three working flippers and to be able capable of diving.

After plenty of antibiotics, fluids, and other treatments, Firecracker and several other turtles are back home.

"They are going to have to start catching their own crabs but you're excited for them." Walker said.

For more information on the work the ARK does click here.