ORANGE BEACH, Ala. (WKRG) – Monday morning was full of cheer on the shores of Orange Beach when a creature of the sea was returned to it’s home.
Guill, an endangered Kemp’s ridley sea turtle, was released into the Gulf of Mexico near the Perdido Pass bridge. Guill was found barely clinging to life on Ono Island with fishing tackle wrapped around its neck. A concerned individual called the sea turtle hotline at 1-866-SEA-TURT and that call was later transferred to the Orange Beach Coastal Resource Division.
Guill was picked up by Lisa Graham and Wade Stevens at the Orange Beach Coastal Resource Division. Graham and Stevens took the turtle the Gulfarium C.A.R.E Center in Fort Walton Beach, Florida. There he stayed for 4 months until Guill was rehabilitated and released.
“It was at night,” Graham said after Guill’s release. “We got over there to get him/her and it was so sad. There was marine debris and a trap and it was just all tangled up. I never dreamed it would live, so it’s very exciting.”
“It’s definitely work where it required everybody to get together and help get the turtle … out of the water and then get it over to the Gulfarium that’s two hours away,” Sablan said. “And then the Gulfarium staff worked tirelessly to get this turtle back up to health. It had a very severe injury around the neck. The fishing line actually wrapped around the neck. And I didn’t think the turtle was actually going to make it through the night but it’s one of the examples that this turtle did come through. It’s also an example of how important it is to take your fishing gear with you when you leave the beach or if you have crab pots that you remove them when they’re not in use.”
On the way back from the Gulfarium Monday morning, Graham said Guill was ready to go and when he touched the Gulf after a four-month absence, he wasted no time and quickly swam away, coming up for some air moments later some 20 yards off shore to another round of cheers.
Over 50 adults and children gathered to celebrate the release of Guill, including Jackie Sablan. “This is a Kemp’s ridley, which is one of the rarest sea turtles in the world,” Sablan said to the gathered group with young children listening intently. “You can tell it’s one of the small ones as well, and at adult size, they are at maybe 100 pounds. So this one has a little bit longer to go until it’s an adult. But they love using our nearshore environment to feed as they’re growing. A lot of times we find them in our bays around this area.”
Guill was believed to be 10 years old.