CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - A crowd of hundreds joined together at Isle of Palms County Park Wednesday to celebrate the release of Sully, a juvenile loggerhead turtle, and Cove, a juvenile sea turtle.
The event marked the first release of the 2017 season and the first release using the SC Aquarium Sea Turtle care center's new Sprinter vehicle, powered by Mercedes-Benz Vans, LLC.
Sully had been found nearly a year ago near Sullivan's Island, thin and a soft shell, which aquarium biologists indicate was a sign of sickness.
Sully, along with Cove, now mark 220 turtles the aquarium staff has been able to treat and return to health and ultimately, the sea.
"It's exciting to really see that transformation of the turtles when they first arrive, to see them get better, to hit those milestones," Willow Melamet, aquarium biologist, said. "They're gaining weight. They're doing much better physically, and then eleventh months later, in the case of Sully where we're able to release them back to the ocean."
Melamet said 17 sea turtles remain in the care of staff, "in the que for release."
"We have turtles that were stranded turtles from last summer….They've been in our care for almost a year now. We're going to be tagging more turtles…they should be getting their clean bill of health any day now," Melamet said.
According to Melamet, another release should be scheduled over the next few weeks.