The Georgia Sea Turtle Center is starting off September with a double sea turtle release! Staff at the center on Jekyll Island announced this week they will release Shirley and Tiburon, both loggerhead sea turtles, this Friday from Great Dunes Park.
A sub-adult loggerhead turtle, Shirley was trawled up by the Georgia Bulldawg Research Vessel in June. The research vessel actively works to trawl up sea turtles, in an effort to encounter animals that otherwise would not be seen. Researchers use the caught animals to measure population sizes, collect blood and tissue samples, as well as tag animals for future identifications purposes.
When Shirley was trawled on June 27, she was thin, had unhealthy blood values and had a surplus of epibiota (or barnacles) on her shell. Researchers transferred Shirley to the Georgia Sea Turtle Center for fluids and to correct anemic conditions. After several weeks of attention and care, staff has now declared Shirley healthy enough for release.
The second turtle ready for release, Tiburon, is a large, adult loggerhead sea turtle who was found stranded on July 8 on Cumberland Island. When he arrived at the center, the estimated 30-year-old loggerhead was covered in epibiota, was underweight and was anemic. After receiving fluids and corrective antibiotics, Tiburon is now healthy enough to leave the center and reenter the wild.
“It’s rare for us to receive a turtle as large as Tiburon,” noted Dr. Terry Norton, veterinarian and director of the center. “He is a very impressive sea turtle.”
This dual-release marks the fourth time the center has held a double sea turtle release in as many weeks. On August 7, Randy and Condron were both released from Great Dunes Park, followed by a release on August 9, when Robin and Nat were released by center staff on the shore of Pointa Verdra in Florida. On August 22, Cinnamon and Ebb were released from Great Dunes Park. All totaled, the center has released more than 30 sea turtles this year. Since opening in 2007, more than 350 sea turtles have come to the center for rehabilitation, with about 60 percent of those turtles released.
“Both Shirley and Tiburon have recovered nicely and are ready to go back to the ocean,” said Norton. “This is just one more great example of our efforts paying off. It’s a very rewarding moment anytime we can heal and send a turtle back to its natural home.”
The double release will be held at 5 p.m. Friday at Great Dunes Park. The public and media are invited to attend, and homemade signs to cheer on the turtles are encouraged.
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 conservation of coastal wildlife and ecosystems. Through 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 georgiaseaturtlecenter.org or jekyllisland.com.