VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) - A large crowd gathered at First landing State Park Thursday morning to see two green turtles released back into the bay.
The crowd steadily grew as staff from the Virginia Aquarium gave the lowdown on the guests of honor. Mint Chocolate Cookie and Pistachio, Pistachio, have been recovering for the last six months.
Mint Chocolate Cookie was stranded on the beach in Fort Story on Dec. 14, while Pistachio, Pistachio was found on the shores of False Cape State Park on Dec. 29. Both were diagnosed as cold-stunned.
"They came up cold stunned, meaning that their body was really, really cold so they were really lethargic and sick and then we warmed them up and brought them back to health," said Linda D'eri, Virginia Aquarium.
Turtle releases are nothing new to Hampton Roads, but what is new is how tabs will be kept on them. These two turtles have sonic tags.
"The tags are very small tags that produce a coded message that can be picked up by receivers in the Chesapeake Bay," said Susan Barco, Virginia Aquarium.
This tagging effort is funded by Navy Fleet Forces Command, and you may ask, "why is the Navy interested in turtles?"
"One of the big things we're going to be able to get from this is residency time, which is how long the turtles are staying in this area, which is really important to know. Are they just coming in and passing through? Or are they coming in and just sitting and hanging out in the bay?" explained Andrew Dimatteo, Navy Natural Resource Specialist.
"The Navy has a lot of land and a lot of the ocean that they use for training purposes, and they're trying to be very good environmental stewards and learn how their efforts might be affecting different species in the area," said Barco.
If you happen to see a dead or live stranded marine mammal or sea turtle on the beach, the Virginia Aquarium would like you to call the Virginia Marine Stranding Response hotline at (757) 385-7575.
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