Seven Sea Turtles Released After Rehab Stint

Seven Sea Turtles Released After Rehab Stint
Photos by Shawn Soper

OCEAN CITY — With a big crowd on hand on a picture-perfect late June morning, a total of seven fully-rehabbed sea turtles were released from the beach at 40th Street and returned to their ocean home.

The National Aquarium’s Animal Care and Rescue Center, in cooperation with allied agencies from other mid-Atlantic states, on Monday released seven sea turtles from the beach at 40th Street in Ocean City. Six were smallish Kemp Ridley’s sea turtles, and the final one, the big finale of sorts, was a loggerhead known as Canuck, who ambled down the beach and returned to the ocean much the delight of the big crowd on hand.

Three of the Kemp’s Ridley sea turtles were originally rescued and rehabilitated by the National Marine Life Center in Buzzards Bay, Massachusetts. The three turtles were rescued after being “cold stunned” off the Massachusetts coast and were transferred to the National Aquarium in Baltimore in April for further rehabilitation.

Three other Kemp’s Ridley turtles were rehabilitated at the Sea Turtle Recovery facility in New Jersey, which piggy-backed on the multiple release from the beach at 40th Street on Monday morning. Canuck, a big loggerhead, was rescued by the Virginia Aquarium in September.

Canuck was found floating with damage to the top of its shell, or carapace, and was transferred to the National Aquarium in November for long-term rehabilitation. One by one, the six Kemp Ridley’s and were carried to the high-tide line by aquarium staffers and slowly waddled into the surf.

DSC_0292-150x150.jpgFinally, Canuck was carried down to the water’s edge and after a few moments, the big sea turtle made its way into the lapping waves and swam away, much to the delight of the big crowd of onlookers.

The scene has become more and more frequent as the National Aquarium and its allied agencies continue to release rehabilitated sea creatures from the beach in Ocean City. Earlier this month, a male juvenile harbor seal named Marmalade was released from the same area of beach at 40th Street.

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.

About The Author: Shawn Soper

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Shawn Soper has been with The Dispatch since 2000. He began as a staff writer covering various local government beats and general stories. His current positions include managing editor and sports editor. Growing up in Baltimore before moving to Ocean City full time three decades ago, Soper graduated from Loch Raven High School in 1981 and from Towson University in 1985 with degrees in mass communications with a journalism concentration and history.