NEW ORLEANS — A young green sea turtle rescued by a fisherman has been rehabilitated and released in the Gulf of Mexico with help from the Coast Guard, the Audubon Nature Institute said Tuesday.
Audubon stranding coordinator Gabriella Vazquez said Tuesday the turtle dubbed Peanut was sluggish and dehydrated when it was brought to Audubon's Species Survival Center in New Orleans on May 30.
It was released last Wednesday, about 15 miles from Venice, Vazquez said. In comments relayed by institute spokeswoman Katie Smith, Vazquez said she and the Coast Guard crew searched for about an hour before finding a mat of the sargassum seaweed where baby turtles hide and find the small animals they eat.
Adult green sea turtles have a brownish-olive colored shell, but the species was named for the color of their fat, at a time when so many were eaten that the species is still endangered. It's still legal in some countries to kill them and collect their eggs for food.
Green sea turtles can grow to more than 300 pounds, but this one weighed only about 1.15 pounds when it was found, Smith wrote. It gained more than 5¼ ounces — about 29 percent of its original weight — during recuperation.
Its age was estimated at 3 to 7 years old, Smith wrote.
Vazquez said in a news release that the turtle was given fluids and antibiotics and kept out of water the night it arrived, because the veterinarian worried that it might not survive an unsupervised night in the water.
"The following day we had supervised swim time and determined he was strong enough to be in water on his own," she said.
The Coastal Wildlife Network coordinated by Audubon has rescued more than 200 sea turtles since 2010, according to the news release.