OCEAN CITY — Beachgoers in Ocean City got a close and personal glimpse of Kemp’s Ridley sea turtles on Monday when National Aquarium staffers released three of the rehabilitated creatures from the beach at 40th Street.
The National Aquarium’s Marine Animal Rescue Program on Monday released three Kemp’s Ridley sea turtles from the beach in Ocean City. A big crowd, including many local officials, gathered to watch as the three turtles were carried to the water’s edge and released before swimming away.
The sea turtles were released after spending eight months at the National Aquarium’s rehabilitation facility. Two of the turtles were rescued off the coast of Cape Cod during cold-stunning season, while the third came to the National Aquarium from the National Marine Life Center. The National Aquarium’s rehabilitation facility accepted and rehabbed dozens of sea turtles from late last fall through the winter months that had suffered the effects of a phenomenon known as cold-stunning.
Throughout the winter, hundreds of cold-stunned sea turtles were discovered on the beaches up and down the mid-Atlantic region and many found their way to the National Aquarium and other similar rehabilitation facilities. The sea turtles hit patches of extremely cold water during their typical migration patterns to warmer climates and the cold water literally stuns them to the point their bodies start to shut down. Unable to swim and navigate, the disabled sea turtles are at whims of the tides and often strand on area beaches.
Throughout the summer months, rehabilitated sea turtles are re-released back into the wild in what has become a somewhat familiar scene recently. In early July, the National Aquarium released seven rehabilitated sea turtles from the beach at Assateague and three more cold-stunned turtles were released from the beach in Ocean City near the Inlet just two weeks ago.
The three different releases of rehabbed sea turtles during the month of July continued a very active period of releases from area beaches for the National Aquarium. In early June, National Aquarium staffers released a juvenile grey seal that had been rescued from a Delaware beach this spring on Easter appropriately named Lilly. The seal, which had suffered a broken jaw and was transported for rehabilitation in Baltimore, was the National Aquarium Animal Rehabilitation Program’s 150th successful release.