Above left to right, Pluto a loggerhead sea turtle, Polaris and Pandora, both Kemp's ridley sea turtles
This past Wednesday, 9/14/11, the Rescue and Rehabilitation Department released the last of the remaining turtles from our past cold stunning season of 2010. These three turtles, Pluto (127), Polaris (116), and Pandora (40), were held with the Rescue Dept. until all of their ailments were resolved and they were deemed fit for release by the veterinary staff here at NEAq.
We decided to drive from Quincy and release these turtles off of the southern edge of Long Island, New York. Its getting later in the release season so we decided to give them a head start and bring them south a bit. So needless to say, we had a pretty early start!
Tina, who works in the NEAq Animal Health Department, and Diane, a loyal volunteer with the Rescue Department, were co-pilots on this sea turtle release mission. After putting the turtles in their totes, they got right to work cleaning the numbers off of the carapace. No need for shell numbers out in the wild!
Pluto was the largest sea turtle and the only loggerhead we received from cold-stunning this past year. Loggerhead turtles will grow much larger than their Kemp's ridley counterparts, and thus received more sizable accommodations for the journey.
Our trip across Long Island Sound brings us to the Cross Sound Ferry Terminal in New London, CT. Diane scans the open water before we board the ferry.
After our ferry crossing, we stopped in at Riverhead, New York to visit some friends of ours. The Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research and Preservation has a fantastic Marine Mammal and Sea Turtle Rescue Program. These fine folks helped organize and accompanied us on the release. Thanks Riverhead!
The turtles have arrived at the beach! Release is moments away. Strangely enough, a particular song began to play on the radio as we pulled into the beach. Blondie's "The tide is high" came on just as we pulled in. Coincidence?
Above Tina, Diane, and the rest of the release crew make the final preparations. The turtles know what to do from here!
Kim Durham and Rob DiGiovanni from Riverhead (seen in red) picked a perfect spot for the turtle release. The turtles took to the ocean at Ponquogue Beach in Hampton Bays, New York. A great spot on the southern edge of Long Island which should give them a good jump start heading south to the warm waters of southern latitudes!
Pluto, the loggerhead was first to hit the water, followed by Pandora, and lastly but certainly not least, Polaris. There was a fair amount of surf and the turtles plunged right in like they never missed a beat! Good luck, turtles, and safe travels.
Overall, it was a great day. These were the last of our 2010 cold-stun turtles to be released, and the level of satisfaction was unbeatable seeing these turtles return to the ocean. All of these turtles overcame great odds and their own individual battles to ultimately survive. These turtles hit the water just in time because in a few months we will be busy again with our next batch of cold-stunned turtles coming in! If 2011 is anything like 2010, we should be in for quite a show. Any guesses as to what the naming theme will be this coming year? Stay tuned. Until next time.