Beachgoers cheered as a loggerhead sea turtle headed into the surf after two months at the North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores. Aquarium Director Allen Monroe escorted the 90-pound reptile to the water’s edge at Fort Macon State Park on Saturday, Oct. 5. With a few quick motions of its flippers, it disappeared into the salty water. See more photos of the release on the Aquarium’s Facebook page.
The return to sea was a happy ending for the turtle, injured Aug. 3 when it was hooked at a Virginia fishing pier. Initial treatment in Virginia included removal of a fish hook from its mouth and another from its esophagus and a course of antibiotics. Its shell was cleaned of a thick layer of marine growth. It came to Pine Knoll Shores for follow-up care Aug. 19 after the Virginia program asked for help with an overflow of marine animals at its facilities.
The Aquarium has cared for and released an estimated 700 sea turtles since it opened in 1976.The Aquarium works with the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission to provide care for juvenile and adult turtles as they recover from injuries or ailments, and also for weak sea turtle hatchlings from area nests.
Some of this season’s tiny hatchlings are on exhibit now in the Sea Turtle Rescue exhibit area. Several other Aquarium exhibits and programs feature sea turtles, and educational presentations on how people can help sea turtles.