ASSATEAGUE — Just about a week after the first confirmed successful loggerhead hatching on Assateague sent about 100 baby sea turtles out to sea, a rehabbed juvenile loggerhead found floating in the Chesapeake Bay last fall was released from the barrier island on Thursday.
On Thursday morning, the joint efforts of several organizations and individuals culminated when an 86-pound juvenile loggerhead turtle named Bailey was returned safely to the sea from Assateague State Park after nearly a year of rehabilitation. Bailey was found floating in the Chesapeake last fall and was rescued by the Virginia Aquarium Stranding Response Program.
Bailey was treated for a severe lung infection by Sea Turtle Recovery, a non-profit sea turtle hospital in New Jersey. After months of successful rehabilitation, Bailey was released from the beach at Assateague on Thursday morning by Sea Turtle Recovery with the help of staffers from the National Aquarium in Baltimore.
“Bailey truly had a group effort to ensure his full recovery and release and we are very thankful for such an amazing network of rehabilitation facilities and the staff at Assateague State Park,” said Sea Turtle Recovery Co-Executive Director Brandi Biehl.
All species of sea turtle are federally protected under the Endangered Species Act and are listed as either threatened or endangered. Visitors to Maryland’s coastline are reminded when finding a stranded marine mammal or sea turtle that may be in need of medical attention to keep a safe distance and call the National Aquarium’s stranding hotline at (410) 576-3880.
Bailey’s release from Assateague came just about a week after the first confirmed successful loggerhead nest hatch ever on the barrier island. Last week, around 100 baby sea turtles emerged from their sandy nest and made their way out to sea. For Assateague Island, the successful loggerhead sea turtle nest hatching was a first for the barrier island. Although multiple sea turtle nesting attempts have been documented with the National Seashore in past years, last week’s event was the first confirmed hatch and the largest number of hatchlings ever recorded on the barrier island.