Two more sea turtles have been declared healthy enough for release from the Georgia Sea Turtle Center! Just a week after Hugue, a popular patient at the Center who had more than 250 adoptive parents, was released on the 4th of July holiday, staff at the Sea Turtle Center have announced two more patients are ready to return to their natural habitat. On Friday, July 12, the Center will release Custer, a juvenile green sea turtle, and Mylo, a sub-adult loggerhead sea turtle.
The release will be held at 10:30 a.m. at Great Dunes Park on Jekyll Island, and is free to the public.
Found May 6 in the surf on Cumberland Island, Custer arrived at the Sea Turtle Center emaciated, lethargic, and anemic, with barnacles, leeches, and anemones covering its shell. To help bring the turtle back to health, staff at the Center soaked Custer in shallow fresh water to kill the epibiota and re-hydrate the turtle, as well as provided additional fluids and antibiotics to further the healing process. After putting on some weight and being cured of the anemia issues, staff declared Custer ready to go back to the ocean home. Custer, too, will be outfitted with a PIT tag so the turtle can be tracked after release.
The second turtle up for release, Mylo, was found May 22, caught in a trawl net by the R.V. Lady Lisa research vessel, which purposely tries to catch healthy sea turtles to measure, tag, and collect samples that can be used for research. Inside the net with Mylo was a stingray, which stung the turtle and left a barb just under the turtle’s shell. Mylo was taken to the Sea Turtle Center to have the barb surgically removed, then was given fluids and a short round of antibiotics. With the barb wound healed and the turtle back to health, Mylo is now ready to reenter the Atlantic.
“Both Custer and Mylo are now fully recovered and ready to go,” said Dr. Terry Norton, director and veterinarian for the Center. “We rehabilitate many loggerheads and green sea turtles each year, and it’s exciting to be able to release, not just one, but two, sea turtles at the same time here on Jekyll Island. We are very happy about this release and we hope our friends and supporters will come out to watch the dual release as it happens on Friday. As many guests have said, seeing a turtle released back to its home is a rare and remarkable experience. But seeing two released at once, that’s simply extraordinary.”
This double-release adds to the Center’s already successful turtle release numbers recorded this year and beyond. So far this year, the Georgia Sea Turtle Center has released 32 sea turtles, and has additionally rehabilitated 21 sea turtles. Since opening in 2007, some 350 sea turtles have come to the Center for rehabilitation, with about 60 percent of those turtles released.
“This year has been incredibly busy. Our staff has received many stunned, injured and stranded sea turtles that need treatment and rehabilitation time. Then, of course, releasing them back into the wild is what we are all about,” Norton said. “Our staff works very long hours treating and bringing these turtles to a full recovery and we are certainly seeing the rewards of our efforts.”
Staff at the Sea Turtle Center invite the public to attend the dual-turtle release and watch as these now-healthy creatures enter their natural habitat. The release will be held at 10:30 a.m. at Great Dunes Park on Jekyll Island. Signs of encouragement for the healed turtles, as well as photography, are encouraged. Attending the release is free, but the $6 daily park entry fee does apply.
About the Georgia Sea Turtle Center: Established in 2007 on Jekyll Island and operated by the Jekyll Island Authority, the Georgia Sea Turtle Center was developed as an institution devoted to the rehabilitation of injured sea turtles and preservation of the delicate balance of the oceanic ecosystem. Through sea turtle rehabilitation, research and educational programs, Georgia Sea Turtle Center staff work to increase awareness of habitat and wildlife conservation challenges, promote responsibility for ecosystem health and empower individuals to act locally, regionally, and globally to protect the environment. For information, visit www.georgiaseaturtlecenter.org.