POINT PLEASANT BEACH — In what has become a favorite summer tradition along the Jersey Shore, the nonprofit group Sea Turtle Recovery released two Kemp’s ridley sea turtles back into the ocean Wednesday morning.
Since opening in December of 2016 inside the Essex County Turtle Back Zoo, Sea Turtle Recovery has rehabilitated and released more than 60 sea turtles back into the ocean. Spokespersons said they were excited to usher in a new chapter in the stories of Mira and Geo Millennium as they returned, healthy, to the ocean, to a round of applause from the small group of spectators on July 7.
Due to water temperatures and sea turtle migrations, Sea Turtle Recovery’s patients can be released in New Jersey only from June to September. Outside of these months, the nonprofit must then travel to southern states to ensure the sea turtles’ success.
“Since early 2020, COVID-19 has made it impossible to have a public release. Sea Turtle Recovery is excited to once again share a glimpse of the work that our nonprofit does as these critically endangered turtles are recovered and released,” Co-Executive Officer Bill Deerr said in a release on the event.
“In just four-and-a-half years we have released 64 sea turtles. They were originally stranded in Massachusetts along Cape Cod back in December. I believe over 900 turtles were stranded this year and we take in as many as we can if we have space to help out so we ended up taking about 20 turtles,” he added to The Ocean Star Wednesday.
According to Mr. Deerr, Geo Millennium suffered from fungal pneumonia and Mira a severe lung infection after becoming cold-stunned in November. This is a condition in which the sea turtle’s body systems begin to shut down after they fail to migrate before water temperatures become too cold.
“These guys [the Kemp’s ridley sea turtles] are critically endangered so that is what makes it just even more important that we get them back and get them swimming,” Co-Executive Officer Brandi Biehl told The Ocean Star.
“These were the ones that were the most critically ill and the ones you hold your breath for and wait everyday to make sure they look better and better so to watch these guys go out it’s so amazing.”
Partnering with Jenkinson’s Aquarium and Jenkinson’s Boardwalk, Sea Turtle Recovery works to ensure a safe release for their sea turtles.
“We are thrilled to be able to work with Sea Turtle Recovery,” Jenkinson’s Aquarium Director Cindy Claus told The Ocean Star.
“They do such a great job and they work so hard to make sure that they can get these animals healthy enough to return into the wild so we are just happy that we are able to work with them and have a good relationship.
“It is so neat to be able to see them healthy and going back into the water. It is awesome. They are so passionate and we are too, so it is a great partnership.”
This is an excerpt of the print article. For more on this story, read The Ocean Star—on newsstands Friday or online in our e-Edition.
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