13 sea turtles released in Amelia Island


AMELIA ISLAND, Fla. – Thirteen sea turtles were released back into the wild Wednesday in Amelia Island.

The turtles had been rescued and brought down to Florida from the National Aquarium in Baltimore, MD.

IMAGES: Turtles released into wild

There were two species -- green turtles and Kemps ridley turtles. After their long trip, they couldn't wait to get back in the Florida surf.

Brent Whitaker, a veterinarian and the vice president of biological programs at The National Aquarium made the drive from Baltimore. He says the animals were stranded last November when temperatures got cold off of the New Jersey and Maryland shore.

"Each turtle (had) it's own individual carrier. We put them on the sand, and we cut the zip ties that held  the carriers shut," said Whitaker. "All during the trip they wanted nothing else but to get out."

Whitaker's says his nephew Reed Fisk, an 8th grader, had a project to do for his school and came out for the trip. Fisk said he's gained a lot from the experience.

Both he and Whitaker say they were very excited to put the turtles back into the wild today.

"Sea turtles need to have warm water, and when they find cold water, their body shuts down," said Whitaker. "They cannot do anything. They tumble in the surf, they get sick, they come ashore and they die if someone doesn't come across them and rescue them."

The group that brought them to northeast Florida said it hopes the turtles are on their way to safer waters.

"All sea turtles we released today are endangered, which means there are very few of them left," said Whitaker. "Every animal we can save -- put back out -- has the opportunity to reproduce and therefore perpetuate the species."

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