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Two loggerhead sea turtles return to the wild after ‘intense’ rehab

The Florida Aquarium said the release offers inspiration and hope during the “ever-evolving” COVID-19 situation.
Credit: The Florida Aquarium

NEW SMYRNA BEACH, Fla. — Two loggerhead sea turtles named Titan and Starbird crawled their way back into the wild this week at New Smyrna Beach. 

The Florida Aquarium calling the release a “story of inspiration and hope in the wake of the ever-evolving situation around COVID-19.”

The turtles were flown to Tampa Bay in December 2019 after they were found cold-stunned and stranded on Cape Cod.

Veterinary staff at the Florida Aquarium’s Sea Turtle Rehabilitation Center determined the two turtles were lethargic, in poor body condition and had pneumonia.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), cold stunning occurs when sea turtles, which are cold-blooded reptiles, cannot control their body temperatures due to a rapid decline in water temperatures. This limits their ability to seek out warm water or bask in the sun at the water’s surface to control their body temperature.

As a result, they suffer from hypothermia, or cold stunning.

Cold stunning can be deadly for sea turtles. NOAA says it causes the turtles to become lethargic, making them more likely to be hit by boats or become sick, and it causes their bodies to shut down. 

They're also more vulnerable to predators.

But, after three months of nutrition and intensive medical care, Titan and Starbird recovered and were ready to head home.

“Conservation never stops,” President and CEO of the Aquarium, Roger Germann said. "Even though The Florida Aquarium is closed to the public, we are still caring for our animals 24/7, and that means releasing these two sea turtles back to the ocean.”

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