Sea Turtle Release By Sallie Kahler
By Sallie Kahler
On July 31st three loggerhead turtles were returned to the sea at the Lori Wilson Park in Cocoa Beach between 9:30-10:00. A group of nearly a hundred, mostly STPS members, awaited the arrival of the Sea World Rescue Staff and their wildlife cargo. A utility vehicle brought each turtle onto the beach in a blue tub about the size of a kiddie pool. The largest and most active turtle was Scar, a “teenager” who had been in rehab for over three years. Named for the scar on its head where the turtle suffered severe head trauma, Scar was found stranded at the Inlet State Park. Danette Kane, who had originally transported the turtle to Sea World on Feb. 22, 2015, was on hand for the release. Despite Scar’s eagerness to be out of the tub, once placed at the ocean’s edge it was a different story. An initial charge into the water was immediately followed by a turnaround as the surf lapped over the carapace. Traveling a few feet further south the turtle tried again. Each time the wave action deterred Scar from continuing into the ocean and a repeat continued of the attempts along a southerly jaunt for the better part of half an hour.
Finally, Scar was able to get beyond the breakers and the attention turned to releasing Thumbelina. This was the turtle Roger Pszonowsky had rescued from the Indian River Lagoon and transported on Sept. 21 2016. The turtle had a missing flipper but had no trouble charging into the ocean and disappearing beneath the waves. This was also the outcome when the last turtle, Hugh, was placed in the water by two of the Sea World staff. Hugh was an unexpected “guest” in the planned release, but the crowd also cheered him on as he ducked his head and plowed into the surf. We don’t know why Scar stayed around, but it was sure entertaining watching Scar long after the other two turtles disappeared. Over and over the crowd saw Scar break surface far beyond the wave action, as if reveling in the new environment almost like a breaching whale. With each leap a flipper arched high…one wonders was Scar waving to us?
This event was a FWC permitted activity.
|Scar waiting to be released.|
|From Closest to furthest, Hugh, Thumblina and Scar waiting for release.|
|Scar headed to the ocean.|
|Thumbelina diving into the ocean.|
|Hugh headed out towards the sea.|