Many sea turtles rehabilitating in Topsail Beach were set free on Wednesday.
Noah, a 161 pound loggerhead turtle, was found floating on his back by NOAA researchers; his stomach was severely severed by a boat propeller.
Squirt, a critically endangered type of sea turtle called a Kemp’s Ridley, swallowed a fishing hook.
Sennet, another loggerhead, was found last winter covered in barnacles and leeches. He’s going to carry a satellite tracking device on his back so volunteers can watch his behavior online.
This trio and six other turtles have spent the past several months recovering at the Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Center in Topsail Beach.
“You’re down there, you get to pick them up, you need to give them baths, you get to care for them and you get attached to them,” said volunteer Carla Ennis.
Releasing the sea turtles takes a lot of manpower and preparation. Each is weighed, loaded into the back of a pick up truck and covered in wet towels before being transported to the beach.
In front of about two hundred bystanders, one by one, Noah, Squirt, Sennet, and the others are carried back to sea.
“It was definitely really cool. You could tell they were really ready to go ahead and get out there, flapping their flippers and going, but it was really cool to see everybody taking part of it and holding on to them and letting them go, and seeing them go under the waves, it makes you think twice about what’s really out there in our ocean,” said Lindsay Robertson who observed the turtles being released back into the ocean.
If you would like to learn more about the turtles released today or track Sennet’s journey across the Atlantic, you can visit sea turtle hospital dot org.