Flint RiverQuarium takes in Irma animal evacuees, rescues sharks

Flint RiverQuarium takes in Irma animal evacuees, rescues sharks
Animal evacuees are in Albany (Source: WALB)
The animals are here until they can return (Source: WALB)
The animals are here until they can return (Source: WALB)

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - Animal evacuees are still seeking safety at the Flint RiverQuarium in Albany.

A close-knit community of caretakers have banded together to ensure their survival.

"So, these two are actually siblings," UGA Curator Devin Dumont said, describing animals evacuated to the Albany facility. "These are young American Alligators."

Those siblings are on what has become somewhat of a family road trip.

The two are getting along just fine, and they're joined by Lefty, a sea turtle, one of their old neighbors at the UGA Marine Education Center and Aquarium.

The facility is a part of the Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant.

"It had sort of an injured left flipper and it was left behind in the sand," Dumont said. "So, we decided on Lefty."

But this time, with Irma churning in the Atlantic, Lefty wasn't forgotten. In fact, the turtle was given special treatment.

"So, we sort of have to give them priority above all the other marine species we have at our aquarium," Dumont said.

The loggerhead sea turtle is a protected species. Researchers removed it from the Skidaway Island facility, along with the alligators, and brought them all to the Flint RiverQuarium, in fear that their building would be destroyed.

"You know, it's a pretty tight little community, all of us that take care of animals," Richard Brown, the Director of the Flint RiverQuarium, said. "We're all happy to help each other."

That's exactly what they're doing. The Flint RiverQuarium is also helping others.

Employees transported two Nurse Sharks from a Florida facility, where the power ultimately went out, to the Georgia Aquarium.

"The fact that we had two of them out of there, let the other nurse shark survive on whatever oxygen was in there," Brown said. "Because there weren't three of them, he made it and the other three made it too. So, we did what we were hoping to do and we feel very good about that."

A good feeling that stems from saving animals' lives and allowing Lefty to see another birthday.

"Next week, it'll be two years old," Dumont said.

So, for now, while there is no damage at UGA Marine Education Center, the animals will have to hold tight until the power is restored and Lefty will be ringing in two years of life on the road.

The Flint RiverQuarium did not sustain any damage as Irma moved over Albany. Employees said the power did go out, but only briefly.

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