KURE BEACH, NC (WWAY) — Two loggerhead sea turtles recently were released to the Atlantic Ocean after receiving care for more than a year at the N.C. Aquarium at Fort Fisher.
The threatened sea turtles first arrived at the Aquarium from Kure Beach Nest 1 in 2016, where they were discovered during a nest excavation. As hatchlings the turtles weighed less than one ounce. During their stay at the Aquarium, the animals received daily care and careful monitoring by the Aquarium’s team. The turtles helped visitors better understand the threats faced by threatened and endangered sea turtle species.
In early October, the loggerhead sea turtles received their last veterinarian check and were cleared for release. They grew approximately 10 inches in length, gained almost seven pounds and could swim and dive for food.
Aquarium staff ferried the turtles to Morehead City for their release. There they joined an expedition of scientists and staff from Aquariums from around the country, along with 25 additional turtles for the journey home. The turtles were taken offshore and gently lowered in a basket into the Atlantic.
Each summer, the three North Carolina Aquariums (Fort Fisher, Pine Knoll Shores, Roanoke Island) work with the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission and local sea turtle rescue organizations, accepting a limited number of hatchling sea turtles that do not make the initial trek to the sea. The turtles are discovered during routine nest excavations three days after nests hatch.
While some of the turtles remain in North Carolina, others are fostered temporarily with Aquariums around the country. This year Adventure Aquarium in New Jersey, ABQ BioPark in New Mexico, Mystic Aquarium in Connecticut, National Aquarium in Baltimore, Newport Aquarium in Kentucky and The Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk in Connecticut participated in the loan program and release.
“Protecting these vulnerable animals and helping the public understand the importance of saving these species is a vital part of our work at the Aquarium,” said Director Peggy Sloan.