FORT FISHER, NC (WWAY) — It was a big day for sea turtles at fort fisher. One headed back to the wild, while a nest of one rare species has appeared for the first time.
He was found with ulcers and suffering from erosion, but Thursday morning a threatened green sea turtle affectionately called Womble returned home to the ocean.
“It’s real exciting, because you like to hope and think he recognizes and is ready to go back out,” said Carol Richard of the NC Aquarium at Fort Fisher. “I’m happy to see him go back out, so I just hope he goes out and thrives.”
But Womble’s return to the wild was only a part of the celebration, thanks to a rare find.
“Just a couple of days ago we actually had a leather back nest on the beach, and it’s the first one we’ve ever had, and we’ve been recording turtle nests here since 1985,” Fort Fisher State Park Superintendent Jeff Owen said.
Like many of the 41 nests lining the beach at Fort Fisher, conservationists quickly fenced off the area and marked it with signs to ensure its safety, which could be vital to its species.
“Most all turtles are a threatened species, so it’s very important and vital that we protect them to make sure that they’re around for thousands of more years,” Owen said.
While Womble, who was named for the park ranger who found him, swims out to sea, many will keep a watchful eye for more finned friends wiggling around our beaches.
“That’s what it’s all about,” Owen said. “That’s nature at its finest.”
“Every turtle is very important,” Richard said. “Obviously the more that are out there the better chance at increasing the populations and them going on to lay nests of their own.”