Virginia Aquarium to release sea turtles from rehab

Wolverine came to the Virginia Aquarium Stranding Response Team suffering blunt force trauma to his head. He will be released with the other two turtles into local waters. (Photo credit: Virginia Aquarium Stranding Response Team)

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) – Three rehabilitated sea turtles will be released into local waters Monday afternoon.

The Virginia Aquarium Stranding Response Team will let the last group of these reptiles go for this year before the sea gets too cold. Each turtle will be tracked with pit tags – similar to microchips in dogs and cats – and acoustic tags. Two will have rear flipper tags and a satellite tag.

Wolverine, a loggerhead, was found floating by a Tangier Island fisherman in July. Wolverine was lethargic and in shock from a crushing blow to the head. A CT scan showed the wound and help staff treat it accordingly.

Loki, a Kemp’s ridley sea turtle, came from Kiptopeke State Park in Dec. 2013. Loki was stunned and suffering from pneumonia. Team members treated Loki with fluid therapy, medication and gradually raising core body temperature.

Lex Luther, another Kemp’s ridley, was hooked by a recreational fisherman on Little Island Pier in Sandbridge late July. Lex looked fine at first, but stranding response staff later found a large hook in the esophagus. Lex only has a pit tag and acoustic tag.

The sex of each young turtle is not yet determined, according to the aquarium.

Wolverine, Loki and Lex will be released Oct. 20 at 2 p.m. along the shore just north of Neptune’s Park at 31st Street.

Veterinary staffs have cleared the turtles, and they can be tracked via satellite tags on seaturtle.org. The acoustic tags are part of a project with naval biologists that use an array of receivers in the Chesapeake Bay and coastal ocean to monitor the fine scale movements of sea turtles.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has listed the Kemp’s ridley as an endangered species since 1970.

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