Coast Guard transports 85 endangered sea turtles to Gulfport, Mississippi

1st Coast Guard District News
NEW YORK – Coast Guard Air Station Cape Cod’s HC-144A Ocean Sentry class aircraft landed smoothly at Otis Air Force Base, signaling the final step in completing a sea turtle transportation mission, which began on Dec. 15, 2014.

With post-landing checks completed, the crew, consisting of five Coast Guardsmen and two members of the New England Aquarium, departed the aircraft having just successfully completed a transfer of 85 endangered sea turtles from Cape Cod, Mass., to Gulfport, Miss.

The mission began in Cape Cod, where the 85 turtles were carefully loaded onto a pallet designed to fit inside the HC-144A. Each turtle was sheltered in an individual cardboard box and then covered with a blanket to help keep them warm.

We are bringing the turtles south because the temperatures are too cold for the turtles to survive here in the North Eastern region of the United States, said Teresa Padvaiskas, a volunteer with the New England Aquarium. Working side by side with the Coast Guard, we made sure that each turtle was protected from the elements during the flight to Mississippi.

The flight lasted approximately six hours before the crew landed at the Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport, where members of different aquatic organizations waited anxiously. Once the runway was deemed safe, those members jumped into action and began off-loading the turtles.

One by one, each turtle had its serial number read aloud and simultaneously checked off from a clipboard before they were loaded onto trucks and airplanes for the last portion of their journey to their new home.

“It’s not every day you get to be a part of a mission like this said,” Lt. Jim Freeman, a pilot stationed at Cape Cod. “Being able to assist the New England Aquarium, NOAA, and the endangered turtles has been such a rewarding experience and one that the crew and I won’t ever forget.”

All 85 turtles were transferred to aquatic centers where they will undergo a rehabilitation process before being set back into the wild.

Mission complete.

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