MARINELAND, FLA. (Oct. 27, 2015) – Marineland Dolphin Adventure recently welcomed a Kemp’s ridley sea turtle, Lepidochelys kempii, named “Pokey.” Pokey hatched on July 18, 1984, and previously resided at SeaWorld Orlando, where he was cared for more than 30 years.

Pokey is an adult male sea turtle that was a part of the Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtle Headstart Program in Texas that began in 1978. According to the U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service, this program was created to help increase the chance of survival for Kemp’s ridley sea turtles by rearing young turtles through the vulnerable early stages of life.

“We are excited and proud to give Pokey a new home at Marineland Dolphin Adventure, where he will receive exceptional care. Pokey will be a great addition to help educate guests about this rare and endangered species, “said Kurt Allen, vice president and director of Marineland Dolphin Adventure. “Our hope is that guests will be inspired to conserve our worlds’ oceans and help protect all marine turtles for generations to come.”

Marineland Dolphin Adventure temporarily housed Kemp’s ridley sea turtles affected by strandings in the past. In 2013, the Georgia Aquarium Conservation Field Station rescued a Kemp’s ridley sea turtle just south of Marineland, Fla. that had been struck by a boat and caught in a shrimping net.

Adult Kemp’s ridley sea turtles average about two feet in carapace length. Adults weigh between 70 and 108 pounds. Adults have a dark grey green carapace with a white or yellowish plastron, while the hatchlings are jet black. Kemp’s ridley sea turtles are very rare and currently listed as endangered under the U.S. Federal Endangered Species Act, and critically endangered under the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.  This species faces a variety of dangers every day, including becoming entangled in fishing gear, killing of adults and juveniles for meat and other products, and historically, egg collection. There are an estimated 7,000 – 9,000 nesting females in the current population.

Pokey will join a loggerhead sea turtle, Rocky, at Marineland Dolphin Adventure and can be seen in the Neptune Park area. Photos of Pokey can be found here.

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ABOUT MARINELAND DOLPHIN ADVENTURE

Marineland Dolphin Adventure’s goal is to utilize interactive educational experiences to inspire visitors to value and respect marine mammals and their environment. Located south of St. Augustine, Florida, Marineland Dolphin Adventure opened in 1938 as Marine Studios and marked its 75th anniversary celebration in 2013. In addition to its status as one of Florida’s first and most beloved attractions, the park also pioneered marine science studies, animal training and water chemistry, and is known for establishing the world’s first successful dolphin breeding program. At today’s modern facility, the focus is on intimate, unhurried dolphin interactions, swimming with dolphins and a variety of engaging dolphin encounters. Marineland Dolphin Adventure also hosts memorable oceanside events. Marineland Dolphin Adventure is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit and is affiliate of Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta, Georgia. For more information, visit www.marineland.net.