Tuesday, Sept. 15-Loggerhead Turtle Eyes Ocean Return

BERLIN – The National Aquarium’s Marine Animal Rescue Program (MARP) is planning to release a loggerhead sea turtle to the Atlantic Ocean from Assateague State Park on Saturday, Sept. 19 at 11 a.m.

The turtle will be fitted with a satellite tag, so visitors can follow its movements on the National Aquarium’s website, www.aqua.org.

 The release will take place in conjunction with Maryland Coast Day and will be held at the Day Use Area, third right after the Assateague Island bridge.

The turtle spent over a year in rehabilitation at the National Aquarium after being admitted with an abundance of organisms living on its shell, including barnacles, blue mussels and sea grasses. Within the first few days, nearly 10 pounds of organisms were removed and the turtle regained ability to dive and feed properly, but was still severely underweight.

Throughout the year, the turtle was treated for deep shell infections and was even taken to the Johns Hopkins Hospital and Outpatient Center for two separate CT Scans prior to release. Today, the turtle is healthy and strong and weighs 90 lbs.

Thanks to a generous donation from the Shared Earth Foundation, the turtle will carry a satellite transmitter for a short period of time after release. Foundation representatives named the turtle “Flight and Release” as the turtle was expected to be flown to Florida for release earlier in its rehab, but ongoing health conditions initially prevented the animal from being released early. 

This is the 82nd animal to be released by the National Aquarium. Formed in 1991 and staffed almost entirely by volunteers, the Marine Animal Rescue program has responded to hundreds of strandings, including seals, dolphins and endangered sea turtles, and to sightings of manatees, dolphins and other marine mammals.

For all the week’s news, see The Dispatch on Friday morning.