Virginia Aquarium releases five sea turtles in Va. Beach

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VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — Freedom! After a long road to recovery, the Virginia Beach Aquarium will release five rehabilitated sea turtles back into the Atlantic.

The release of Captain, Honeysuckle, Poppy, Drake and Wisteria is scheduled for 9 a.m. Friday at Neptune’s Park, and is open to the public. The five turtles were in rehabilitation for various reasons including getting caught in fishing lines, trauma and boating accidents.

Aquarium officials said Wisteria, a Kemp’s ridley sea turtle, was hooked in the tongue by a recreational fisher at Little Island Fishing Pier in Virginia Beach back in May. 

Poppy, another Kemp’s ridley, hooked by a recreational angler at Buckroe Fishing Pier in Hampton that same month. A fragment of the hook that became lodged in Poppy’s throat had to be surgically removed, officials said.

Mark Swingle is the Virginia Beach Aquarium Director of Research and Conservation and says the releases are a once ina  life time experience for the public. 

 “One of the turtles we had today we had for eight months and that’s a pretty long time,” said Swingle. “You can see from the reaction of the people out here today that’s it’s absolutely worth it and these are experiences that some of these people have never had in their lives and they may never have again.”

Nearly a month later, a Kemp’s ridley — named Honeysuckle — was hooked in the esophagus at Grandview Beach in Hampton.

Officials said the fourth Kemp’s ridley of the group being released Friday, Captain, was found floating near the third island of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel in August 2017  It was later determined that Captain had a cranial fracture and a fracture in its front right flipper.

Drake — the only loggerhead of the group that’s being released — was a cold-stunned sea turtle that was found on Lynnhaven Beach Dec. 31, 2017. 

10 On Your Side’s Laura Caso will be in Virginia Beach for the release of the turtles.

Look for more coverage later today.

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