Crew members from the U.S. Coast Guard Station Hatteras Inlet recently released 30 sea turtles back into the ocean after the turtles made a full recovery and were deemed ready to return to the water.
The sea turtles were originally part of a wave of turtles that had to be treated after they were cold-stunned during icy temperatures over the winter. In late January, 100 cold-stunned sea turtles were found and transported to the Network for Endangered Sea Turtles (NEST) Rehabilitation Center at the N.C. Aquarium on Roanoke Island, after two days of cold temperatures resulted in approximately 89 sea turtles being rescued on a single day alone.
The 30 turtles that were released were shuttled 10 nautical miles out to sea, and the passengers included a hefty 132 lb. loggerhead turtle, as well as a number of smaller patients who made the trip in Tupperware-style containers. All turtles were safely returned to the water during the Thursday operation, thanks to the assistance of three crew members from the Hatteras Inlet Station.
“We work with a couple of different agencies to release the sea turtles,” said Petty Officer Brandon Sanford of Station Hatteras Inlet. “[We do this] at least a couple of times a year. Usually, at the beginning of winter season, they get picked up and sent to a rehab center, and when spring comes around, we’ll help return them to the ocean.”