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Aquarium Releases Loggerhead Sea Turtles

Two loggerhead sea turtles were recently released to the Atlantic Ocean after receiving care for more than a year at the N.C. Aquarium at Fort Fisher. 

The turtles received daily attention and careful monitoring by the animal care team and grew approximately nine inches and gained almost seven pounds during their time at the Aquarium. The two arrived as hatchlings in late summer of 2015, after they were discovered during a nest excavation in Fort Fisher State Park Recreation Area in Kure Beach. The mother was spotted during nesting, which doesn’t happen often in this area, according to Aquarium Curator Julie Johnson.

“We are privileged to care for these sea turtles during their first year of life and be able to share their story and the need for conservation,” said Johnson.

In mid-October, the turtles received their last veterinarian check and were cleared for release. Aquarium staff then ferried the turtles to Morehead City where they joined an expedition of biologists, veterinarians and staff from 10 Aquariums from around the country, along with 30 additional turtles. A boat ride landed the group in warm Gulf Stream waters where individual turtles were gently lowered via laundry basket into the Atlantic for release.

Each summer, the three North Carolina Aquariums (Fort Fisher, Pine Knoll Shores, Roanoke Island) work with the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission and local sea turtle rescue organizations, accepting a limited number of hatchling sea turtles that do not make the initial trek to the sea. The turtles are discovered during routine nest excavations three days after nests hatch.

While some of the turtles remain in North Carolina, others are fostered temporarily with Aquariums around the country. This year Mystic Aquarium, Newport Aquarium, Adventure Aquarium, National Aquarium, and Virginia Aquarium joined the NC Aquariums for release of sea turtles in their care.

“Protecting vulnerable species and helping the public understand the importance of these animals is a vital part of our work at the Aquarium,” said Director Peggy Sloan.


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