Georgia group and others release 34 rehabilitated sea turtles into ocean after reptiles regained their health

It was a glorious day for many on April 3, 2024, as nearly three dozen sea turtles were released back into the ocean after months of rehabilitation efforts. 

Thirty-four rehabilitated sea turtles were transported to Jekyll Island in Georgia to be let back into the ocean thanks to multiple marine conservation societies and aquariums. 

Each winter, sea turtles are known to wash up on various shores — specifically Cape Cod, Massachusetts, and certain New York areas — as ocean temperatures drop, according to a press release.

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Volunteers from the Mass Audubon’s Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary began patrolling the Cape Cod beaches for stranded turtles before transporting them back to the New England Aquarium’s Sea Turtle Hospital. 

This past season, however, was quite busy for the local hospital as nearly 400 sea turtles came through their Massachusetts doors. 

Over the last four or five months, the turtles were rehabilitated and treated for hypothermia conditions.  (Sara Hertwig/Turtles Fly Too)

The aquarium, running out of resources and space, turned to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fisheries Service and Turtles Fly Too for help transporting the turtles to other organizations, per a press release.

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Turtles Fly Too used volunteer pilots to transport the turtles from Massachusetts and New York shores to other rehabilitation centers, such as the Atlantic Marine Conservation Society, Mystic Aquarium and the New York Marine Rescue Center. 

Plane with turtles

A Piper PA-34 Seneca flew to Jekyll Island, Georgia, with 23 of the rehabilitated sea turtles. (Sara Hertwig/Turtles Fly Too)

Here, turtles underwent four to five months of rehabilitation care to treat their hypothermia-like conditions, which include pneumonia, dehydration and trauma. 

“These turtles that [were] stranded late last year have certainly received wonderful care and are fully recovered as we send them back home.”

From among the six agencies that assisted with the rehabilitation process, over a dozen staff members were there on Wednesday, April 3, as 34 turtles were returned to the sea in Georgia. 

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Of the sea turtles rehabilitated and placed back in the ocean, 33 were Kemp’s ridley sea turtles and one was a green sea turtle. 

Volunteers helped to release all 34 of the sea turtles back into the ocean. (Sara Hertwig/Turtles Fly Too)

New England Aquarium director of rescue and rehabilitation Adam Kennedy said that it was a rewarding experience to see the 11 sea turtles that the aquarium nursed back to health thrive in the ocean.

“These turtles that [were] stranded late last year have certainly received wonderful care and are fully recovered as we send them back home,” he said in a press release. 

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New York Marine Rescue Center executive director Maxine Montello said she’s grateful the five Kemp’s ridley sea turtles that were rehabilitated in their area are now “back home” in the ocean. 

sea turtles near water

The sea turtles were from either Cape Cod or New York, where they were found washed up on shore earlier this winter.  (Sara Hertwig/Turtles Fly Too)

The Atlantic Marine Conservation Society, based in Hamptons Bay, New York, rehabilitated 16 of the Kemp’s ridley sea turtles; and the Mystic Aquarium’s Animal Rescue Program, based in Mystic, Connecticut, helped two other turtles involved in the release. 

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Kemp’s ripley sea turtles can be found typically in New England or the mid-Atlantic, and weigh about 70 to 100 pounds as adults, according to the NOAA. 

The turtles are known to live about 30 years or so, but face threats such as fishing gear, ocean pollution and climate change. 

Fox News Digital reached out to Turtles Fly Too for further comment.

For more Lifestyle articles, visit www.foxnews.com/lifestyle.

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