A trip to Assateague is always a welcome outing, but when there are seven sea turtles being released it becomes a special occasion that calls for LOTS of photos. Warning: these little turtles are pretty high up there on the cuteness scale. We made the short drive over to Assateague State Park this morning to watch as several staff members from the National Aquarium released seven sea turtles into the ocean. All of the sea turtles have been resting at different aquariums over the past few months, recovering from various injuries and illnesses. For example, one of the sea turtles was accidentally hooked by a recreational fisherman in Virginia Beach last month. The unlucky little guy/girl was admitted to the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center for surgery before being moved to the National Aquarium. The other turtles were found stranded along the beaches in Cape Cod over the winter after suffering from cold stunning. Apparently, when turtles hit extremely cold patches of water they are stunned into severe hypothermic reactions with symptoms such as decreased heart rate, decreased circulation, lethargy, shock, pneumonia, and possibly even death. Fortunately for these particular sea turtles, they were rescued late last year and rehabilitated at the New England Aquarium before being transferred to the National Aquarium (and finally, Assateague State Park) for their release.

The beach was packed with eager onlookers as the staff prepared to release the sea turtles at Assateague Thursday morning. Staff and rangers were on hand to ensure that all spectators kept a safe distance. The staff even brought the turtles around so that the kids could get a closer look before releasing them into the ocean. What a great experience for all who attended to get the chance to see wildlife in a safe, controlled setting. Thanks for the heads up on the release Assateague! And a special thanks to all of the aquariums involved in helping these sea turtles and all of the rescued sea life stay safe and healthy. Enjoy our photos!

Photos by Gina Whaley