Eight sea turtles released back into nature

By Brooke Kelley - bio | email

After months of treatment and rehabilitation at both the Georgia Aquarium and the Georgia Sea Turtle Center, eight sea turtles are now swimming in the their own habitat.

Hundreds of spectators at Jekyll Island watched the release, including the veterinarians who helped make the day a reality.

One by one, seven Loggerhead sea turtles, and one green sea turtle were released back into the wild.

Observers cheered as each turtle crawled on the sandy beach into the crashing waves. As each swam away, not even the ocean's sounds could contain the crowd's excitement.

It's a moment that teacher Colette Coyne described as magical.

"I didn't realize how stuck they got, and the good work they do at this institute. So it's a real happy day for them to go back into the wild," Coyne said.

Emily Rehnelt agreed. She made sure to document the entire thing on her camera.

"It's phenomenal to see them let go and everything. It's great it's fun," Rehnelt said.

For Georgia Sea Turtle Center veterinarian Dr. Terry Norton, it's always an emotional day.

He said that watching these turtles swim back out to sea makes nursing these turtles back to health worth every minute.

"Some of these guys are with us for over a year, so it's exciting for us to see them go back into the wild. You know, that's our ultimate goal, and it's real exciting for us and it's a real happy moment. This is where they need to be. So we are excited to get these [turtles] out and back into the wild,"said Norton.

Each one of the turtles has its own story and have spent months and even years getting treatment they need.

Norton said that most of the turtles will likely stay on Georgia's coast -- away from the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

In order to ensure the turtles are adjusting and in safe waters, each turtle will be monitored with a transmitter.  Norton and other veterinarians will be monitoring it very closely.

Go to the Georgia Sea Turtle Center website to track the sea turtles.

Copyright 2010 WTOC. All rights reserved.