NEW ORLEANS (press release) – On March 28, 2022, a cold-stunned green sea turtle affectionately named Bayla rehabilitated by Audubon’s Coastal Wildlife Network team was released into the wild along the Grand Isle shoreline.  

“We have been eagerly awaiting this day,” said Audubon Marine Mammal and Sea Turtle Stranding, Rescue, and Rehab Coordinator Gabriella Harlamert. “The last two months of rehab have been all for this. Being able to return Bayla to the wild is the best feeling ever, and it is why we do what we do.” 

This endangered turtle was rescued by the CWN team on January 23, 2022. CWN was contacted by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration about a floating green sea turtle outside of Belle Pass in Port Fourchon, La. Members of the public spotted the turtle and reported it to NOAA. CWN picked up the turtle and transported her to Audubon’s Aquatic Center, where they began treating her for cold stunning.  

When temperatures drop suddenly, turtles can experience cold stunning—essentially hypothermia. Symptoms of cold stunning can include decreased heart and respiration rates, decreased circulation, shock, and pneumonia. Once a turtle is cold stunned, they become lethargic and have trouble lifting their head above the water to breathe. 

Upon intake, the CWN team gave Bayla fluids, antibiotics, and a full medical workup including ultrasound, radiographs, eye exam, physical exam, and blood work. The CWN team slowly raised the turtle’s body temperature by a few degrees each day to prevent her from going into shock. Over the last two months, the CWN team have worked to increase her interest in food and have observed strong swimming. 

Harlamert added, “Prior to a release decision, our rehab patients go through an exit readiness exam. We repeat the same clinical test as performed during intake to ensure the animal’s health has improved. One of the biggest indicators of whether a sea turtle is ready for release is clear radiographs and clear bloodwork. In Bayla’s case, she passed her exit exam with flying colors.” 

CWN is committed to the humane care and treatment of injured, ill, or displaced marine animals in Louisiana and is the only entity in the state responsible for the rehabilitation of live marine mammals and sea turtles. The information CWN collects from stranded animals provides a snapshot into the health of the marine environment and provides a better understanding of threats to marine mammals and sea turtles in the wild.  

Individual actions can do a world of good for nature and wildlife. The public is advised to report all stranded marine mammals and sea turtles (live or dead) to CWN at (504) 235-3005.    

When reporting strandings, the public should be prepared to give:    

  • Exact location and/or GPS coordinates,    
  • Photographs of the animal, and    
  • Nature of the report (type of animal/live or dead/size, etc.).    

Recommendations when reporting a live stranded animal include:    

  • Don’t push an animal on shore back into the water.    
  • Put human safety above animal safety. If conditions are dangerous, do not attempt to approach the animal.    
  • Keep crowds away and noise levels down to avoid causing stress to the animal.    
  • If the animal returns to the water on its own, don’t attempt to interact with it.    
  • Leave all entanglements that may be present on the animal.