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Kempís Ridley turtle returns to natural habitat after two year rehabilitation

FLAGLER BEACH - After nearly two years of treatment, a rare Kempís Ridley Atlantic Sea Turtle was released today at Gamble Rogers Memorial State Recreation Area in Flagler Beach. The turtle, suffering from a severe bone infection in both of its front flippers, several finger joints and injuries to both elbows, was found stranded on November 30, 2003 in Eastham, Massachusetts, with frostbite and erosion injuries from being tossed around on the beach from cold, rough surf.

We are honored to release this rehabilitated Kempís Ridley to the wild from the shores of one of our State Parks, said Florida State Parks Director Mike Bullock. The pristine waters of the Atlantic at Gamble Rogers are perfect for this occasion, and I appreciate the Florida Aquariumís biologist and Florida State Park volunteer for helping with this occasion.

The Kempís Ridley Sea Turtle is an endangered species with only around 1,000 nesting females in the world. Kempís Ridley, the smallest species of sea turtle, has been listed as endangered since December 2, 1970. Today, under strict protection, the population appears to be in the earliest stages of recovery.

The Florida Aquarium recently celebrated its 10th anniversary as a non-profit education and rehabilitation institution. The sea turtle rehabilitation program started with the record breaking northeast winter in 1999 which left more than 300 cold-stunned turtles needing placement. The program, which has released more than 30 turtles, has a full time vet staff which cares for Kempís Ridley, loggerhead and green sea turtles.

Nestled between the Atlantic Ocean and the Intracoastal Waterway, Gamble Rogers Memorial State Recreation Area at Flagler Beach is the namesake of Florida folk singer Gamble Rogers and railroad entrepreneur Henry Flagler. The beach is the parkís most popular feature, where visitors enjoy swimming, sunbathing or beachcombing. Along the Intracoastal Waterway, picnic pavilions provide a shady place to enjoy a meal, and a nature trail winds through a shady coastal forest of scrub oaks and saw palmetto

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