It’s a process — you go in a large rubber tub, loaded onto a pickup truck. Then there’s the offloading, and getting carried around the circuit of dozens — at times, hundreds — of people there to see you, while you receive a fine water spray.
Then there’s the release. Those that are smaller get the VIT (Very Important Turtle) treatment, carried well out into the surf and let go. For the loggerheads, which weigh as much or more than grown human beings, they have to scoot off the sand and into the waves themselves.
That is the way it goes for a rite of summer on Jekyll Island, the return of rehabilitated sea turtles to the ocean. Friday morning, the turtles returning to the wild included Pesto, a green sea turtle; Linguine, a Kemp’s ridley; and Trantwood, a loggerhead. All three received treatment at the Georgia Sea Turtle Center.
Pesto spent the least time at the GSTC, coming from Cumberland Island on Feb. 1, where they were found with a 65-degree body temperature, skin lesions and low blood sugar. According to the GSTC, Pesto wasn’t very hungry initially and needed tube feeding and to receive needed nutrition through an IV. But with continued assistance and antibiotics, Pesto, a juvenile, improved enough to now be out in the water where they belong.
Both Linguine and Trantwood arrived to Jekyll Island on Nov. 30, 2018. They came in on a flight that originated in Massachusetts with 12 Kemp’s ridleys — including Linguine — found cold-stunned around the Cape Cod area, which first went to the New England Aquarium in Quincy for immediate treatment.
Trantwood was one of three loggerheads picked up from the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center.
Linguine, a juvenile like Pesto, was in bad shape with they arrived, suffering from pneumonia, anemia, a bone infection, an intestinal impaction and general superficial cuts and scrapes. Linguine had to receive food through a tube for six weeks before they could independently eat, but with that, fluids, vitamins and antibiotics, they recovered a normal, healthy level.
Trantwood is a sub-adult, but also cold-stunned like the other turtles, and first found with an internal temperature of 59 degrees. Trantwood also battled through pneumonia, but recovered well and for those who watched Friday afternoon, made a strong scoot over the sand and into the surf to head back out into the larger ocean.
This is the beginning of sea turtle nesting season as well, and the first Georgia nest this season occurred was discovered April 26 on Cumberland Island. According to seaturtle.org, as of late Friday afternoon, there are 36 nests statewide, 25 of which are where they were laid, and 11 relocated.
There are four nests each on Cumberland and Jekyll, two on Little St. Simons Island and one on Sea Island.