CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Yawkey, the nearly 500-pound leatherback sea turtle that washed up on shore in Georgetown, is back in the ocean following a stay at the South Carolina Aquarium's Sea Turtle Rescue Program.
Crews at the South Carolina Aquarium, with the help of SCDNR, returned the 475-pound turtle to the ocean from a nearby beach on the Isle of Palms on Thursday.
To ensure the safest return of the turtle to the wild, the release was not open to the public.
Yawkey set a new record for the aquarium with its size; it is the largest turtle staffers have ever treated, and it required seven people to move the turtle, staffers say.
Yawkey was found washed up on shore Saturday at the Yawkey South Island Reserve in Georgetown and was transported to the aquarium. On the aquarium's Facebook page, staffers said Yawkey responded well to treatment, enabling the veterinarian to clear the turtle for release.
The program consulted with the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources about possible release locations, and settled on a beach on the Isle of Palms.
Hospital crews say Yawkey was pretty cold when they first checked it out; though blood tests indicate nothing too out of the ordinary.
Officials say they were surprised Yawkey did not show signs of external trauma.