Two sea turtles were medically cleared by the Aquarium’s veterinarian, but coastal waters in South Carolina are still too cold for a beach release. With only two weeks to release them into the ocean, where do they go? In the warm waters of the Gulf Stream! Many loggerheads utilize Gulf Stream waters during winter months when coastal waters are too frigid for the cold-blooded reptiles.

On April 2, 2014, with the help of Kevin and Sandra Gary donating their 40’ Regal and fuel, loggerheads Nud and Miss Royal were transported offshore in search of waters measuring 70°F or above. It was found about 55 miles east of Charleston.

From Tank to Boat

The saying, “many hands make light work,” doesn’t always pertain to lifting sea turtles as big as Miss Royal! Hauling a 215-pound sea turtle isn’t easy, but many helping hands made sure the transport and release went smoothly.  Nud, weighing only 75-pounds, was easy in comparison to Miss Royal.

Release-1Image Description
release-2

Sea Turtle Rescue Program staff and interns rolled the sea turtles to the Maritime Center where the 40’ Regal, Sláinte, was waiting. The crew of Sláinte assisted in loading the turtles onto the boat.

release-3
release-5

The Release

Once we motored into the warm waters of the Gulf Stream, we continued on for about 5 miles. This distance provides the turtles a buffer zone to adjust to ocean life again and encourages them not to swim back toward cooler waters. Tanya and Tom Fitzgerald released Nud first. Once over the side of the boat, she quickly swam off!

release-4
release-6

It took four of us to lift Miss Royal out of her transport container into the hands of Captain Kevin Gary and Chris Vines. The huge loggerhead pushed on the side of the boat with her neck outstretched toward the ocean as if she longed to be there. Within seconds, Miss Royal was swimming in the beautiful blue waters of the Gulf Stream.

release-8
release-9

It was a beautiful spring day and certainly one to celebrate, as two healthy sea turtles that overcame grave medical issues were released back into the ocean. So many amazing people were involved in their rescue, rehab and release – although we can’t possibly name everyone, WE THANK YOU ALL!

All the best,

Kelly Thorvalson