POINT PLEASANT BEACH — As the sun rose over the horizon Wednesday morning, so did the level of anticipation among roughly 200 people who lined the beach to watch as four sea turtles returned to the ocean.
Children and adults alike were anxiously waiting on the beach off Water Street to witness the second sea turtle release in New Jersey by Sea Turtle Recovery.
For one organizer, the presence of local school students was very encouraging.
“If you look through the crowd you’ll see a lot of schoolchildren. Most of them start school today, so they’re here, they’re checking out what’s going on,” said Cindy Claus, director at Jenkinson’s Aquarium, who helped orchestrate the event.
“This is something they’re going to remember and that as they get older it’s going to be all up to them to protect the environment and help these animals, so it’s great to have them here,” she added.
Three juvenile Kemp’s Ridley Turtles, an endangered species, were released first. Glacier, who had a broken fin when recovered at Sandy Hook, was a little hesitant to start, but once he hit the water he was off.
Junior and Shellbie were both brought to Sea Turtle Recovery from Cape Cod, Massachusetts, after a mass stranding event involving 400 turtles in need of rescue, and were quick to join Glacier in the water.
“The Kemp’s Ridleys were really important because they are endangered and seeing them go back into their habitat will hopefully help protect that species,” said Cindy Claus, director at Jenkinson’s Aquarium, who helped orchestrate the event.
The largest of all the turtles was Tammie, a 235-pound Loggerhead turtle at approximately 40 years old. She was recovered off Cape May by the United States Coast Guard Cutter Lawrence Lawson in June 2017.
“She had over 38 pounds of barnacles, mussels and mud growing on her shell … an internal infection and six propeller cuts on her carapace, top shell,” a news release from Sea Turtle Recovery reads.
Sea Turtle Recovery, a nonprofit rehabilitation center located at the Essex County Turtle Back Zoo, rehabilitated the turtles.
Co-Executive Officer of Sea Turtle Recovery Brandi Biehl said, “After over a year in rehabilitation, this turtle and all of the turtles getting released take a piece of my heart with them on their journey.”
For more on this story, read The Ocean Star—on newsstands Friday or online in our e-Edition.