Earlier this month in Satellite Beach, staff and volunteers from Brevard Zoo’s Sea Turtle Healing Center released Gabriel, a subadult loggerhead. In July, Gabriel was found in a debilitated state in the Indian River Lagoon just south of Sebastian Inlet. He arrived emaciated and covered in barnacles, algae and leeches. Healing Center staff provided Gabriel with nutritious food (he gained 20 pounds in his first two months of rehabilitation), vitamins, and treatment for intestinal parasites.
Sea turtle experts were not concerned about Hurricane Irma’s potential impact on Gabriel.
“Gabriel is a strong, healthy animal,” said Melanie Stadler, the Zoo’s sea turtle program coordinator. “Sea turtles have been swimming in our oceans for millions of years and they are more than equipped to deal with this kind of weather.”
Found in oceans all over the world, loggerheads are considered “vulnerable” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources. Poaching, coastal habitat loss, climate change, ocean plastics and entanglement in fishing gear pose the most significant threats to this species.