Bon Voyage! Gulf Specimen Releases Two Kemp's Ridley Turtles

Jul 27, 2018

Weezer, one of the rehabilitated Kemp's Ridley sea turtles, returns to the wild.
Credit AnnMarie Welser / wfsu news

The Gulf Specimen Marine Lab released two adolescent Kemp’s Ridley sea turtles Thursday. For local marine biology icon Jack Rudloe, this turtle release was particularly meaningful.

The two sea turtles’ names are Weezer and Renegade, but their release was dedicated to the memory of someone Rudloe has always looked up to. Nathaniel “Nat” Reed advised several U.S. presidents on fish, wildlife and national parks. He died earlier this month at 84. Reed also co-authored the Endangered Species Act, which Rudloe says is a cornerstone of marine life advocacy.

“Basically, the Endangered Species Act gives us the only handle to basically stop a lot of the destruction,” Rudloe said. “So habitats, wildlands, this refuge could be under attack right now.”

Rudloe, before releasing the pair of turtles, explained Reed is one of – if not the main reason he has gotten involved in trying to bring about awareness and change.

“He was really one of my mentors and he really encouraged me to get involved with it. Before that I was just sort of collecting specimens and selling them to schools and research labs,” Rudloe said. “And Nat urged me to get involved because we saw the sweeping changes.”

Cypress Rudloe, the lab’s executive director, says the Responsible Pier Initiative was essential in saving the turtles. The Initiative is a partnership between fishermen and marine biologists who can provide emergency care for injured turtles.