Loggerhead turtles return to the ocean after 7 months of rehabilitation

Loggerhead turtles return to the ocean after 7 months of rehabilitation

  • Loggerhead turtles return to the ocean after 7 months of rehabilitation

    Dennis, MA – August 5: A turtle with a tracking device crawls to the sea as people watch as the New England Aquarium releases 4 loggerhead turtles that have been recuperating at their turtle facility in Quincy on August 5, 2021 in , Dennis, MA. (Staff Photo By Alexi Cohan/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald)

  • Dennis, MA – August 5: A turtle with a tracking device crawls to the sea as people watch as the New England Aquarium releases 4 loggerhead turtles that have been recuperating at their turtle facility in Quincy on August 5, 2021 in , Dennis, MA. (Staff Photo By Alexi Cohan/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald)

  • Quincy, MA – August 5: Loggerhead #1128, with a satellite tracking device rises to the surface as the New England Aquarium prepares 4 loggerhead turtles to be returned to the sea after recuperating at their turtle facility on August 5, 2021 in , Quincy, MA. (Staff Photo By Stuart Cahill/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald)

  • Quincy, MA – August 5: Melissa Rocha (L) and Charlotte Cork wrestle a Loggerhead turtle out of its tank as the New England Aquarium prepares 4 loggerhead turtles to be returned to the sea after recuperating at their turtle facility on August 5, 2021 in , Quincy, MA. (Staff Photo By Stuart Cahill/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald)

  • Quincy, MA – August 5: Sarah DiCarlo (L) and Alessia Brugnara pull a Loggerhead turtle from its tank and places it in a container as the New England Aquarium prepares 4 loggerhead turtles to be returned to the sea after recuperating at their turtle facility on August 5, 2021 in , Quincy, MA. (Staff Photo By Stuart Cahill/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald)

  • Quincy, MA – August 5: Melissa Rocha (L), Charlotte Cork (C) and Sarah Perez (R) place a Loggerhead turtle into a container as the New England Aquarium prepares 4 loggerhead turtles to be returned to the sea after recuperating at their turtle facility on August 5, 2021 in , Quincy, MA. (Staff Photo By Stuart Cahill/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald)

  • Quincy, MA – August 5: Sarah Perez pulls a Loggerhead turtle from its tank and places it in a container as the New England Aquarium prepares 4 loggerhead turtles to be returned to the sea after recuperating at their turtle facility on August 5, 2021 in , Quincy, MA. (Staff Photo By Stuart Cahill/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald)

  • Quincy, MA – August 5: Sarah Perez pulls a Loggerhead turtle from its tank and places it in a container as the New England Aquarium prepares 4 loggerhead turtles to be returned to the sea after recuperating at their turtle facility on August 5, 2021 in , Quincy, MA. (Staff Photo By Stuart Cahill/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald)

  • Quincy, MA – August 5: Biologist Alessia Brugnara pulls Loggerhead turtle #1128 from its tank as the New England Aquarium prepares 4 loggerhead turtles to be returned to the sea after recuperating at their turtle facility on August 5, 2021 in , Quincy, MA. (Staff Photo By Stuart Cahill/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald)

  • Quincy, MA – August 5: (from L to R) Charlotte Cork and Melissa Rocha carry one turtle and Sarah Perez carries another as the New England Aquarium prepares 4 loggerhead turtles to be returned to the sea after recuperating at their turtle facility on August 5, 2021 in , Quincy, MA. (Staff Photo By Stuart Cahill/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald)

  • Quincy, MA – August 5: Sarah DiCarlo (L) and Alessia Brugnara carry a turtle out of the facility as the New England Aquarium prepares 4 loggerhead turtles to be returned to the sea after recuperating at their turtle facility on August 5, 2021 in , Quincy, MA. (Staff Photo By Stuart Cahill/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald)

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Slow and steady wins the race.

Four loggerhead turtles are back in open waters after a shell-shocking cold stun off the waters of Cape Cod Bay that left them with pneumonia and seven months of rehabilitation.

“It’s rewarding and it’s exciting when you put so much work and effort into these animals to have them back where they belong,” said Sarah Perez, a rescue biologist with the New England Aquarium.

The turtles, named Popeye, Peanut, Captain Kool-Aid, and Glossy Ibis, were cold-stunned and stranded off the shores of Cape Cod in December where they were rescued and rehabilitated at New England Aquarium for life-threatening conditions such as pneumonia, hypothermia and bone fractures.

They were released Thursday night on West Dennis Beach.

Now healthy and back in the ocean, the turtles equipped with acoustic and satellite trackers will go back to life as normal and provide crucial data to researchers.

The internal acoustic tag will last about three years while an external satellite tag will be functional for one year at the most.

Their chance at surviving is pretty good, according to Kara Dodge, research scientist at the aquarium. Their biggest threat is humans, with many turtles being injured by boats, and predators such as sharks.

“Turtles of that size would certainly be a nice dinner for a shark,” said Dodge.

Loggerhead turtles can grow as big as 300 pounds eating crab, mussels and clam, Dodge said. During the 2020 cold season, New England Aquarium helped to rescue nearly 600 sick turtles, and the numbers keep going up due to climate change and other factors.

Nursing the turtles back to health is no easy task, Perez said, and three more remain at the aquarium waiting to be strong enough to go back into the ocean.

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