The nonprofit Sea Turtle Recovery, located inside Essex County Turtle Back Zoo, plans to set another milestone with its first sea turtle release in New Jersey. Sea Turtle Recovery has rehabilitated and released 10 endangered sea turtles into warm southern waters since opening at Turtle Back Zoo last December, and now the temperature and conditions are right for their first New Jersey release.
Sea Turtle Recovery, STR, is the only long-term care facility for threatened and endangered sea turtles in the state. Prior to Sea Turtle Recovery’s establishment, sea turtles needing long-term care had to be transferred out of the state. This meant that critical sea turtles had to travel as far south as North Carolina to receive necessary treatment. On Tuesday, August 8th, an 88-pound Loggerhead named “Humphrey” will be the first sea turtle released off Point Pleasant Beach after recovering in New Jersey.
“This 12-year-old Loggerhead is getting a second chance thanks to all of the people who have fought to make STR a reality. New Jersey chose to make a difference for threatened and endangered sea turtles and, with continued support, Humphrey will be just the first of many releases” stated STR’s Co-Executive Officer Bill Deerr.
Humphrey stranded in Virginia on December 24, 2016. STR agreed to rehabilitate Humphrey due to overcrowding at a marine life rehabilitation facility in Virginia. After battling a severe respiratory infection, this juvenile Loggerhead is finally ready to return home.
Jenkinson’s Aquarium, the Point Pleasant Rescue Dive team, and Mayor Stephen Reid are taking on the task of helping this non-profit create a safe release. The release is scheduled between 8:30 and 9:00 am near Jenkinson’s Aquarium on Water Street, and the public is encouraged to get to the beach right at 8:30 for a chance to glimpse Humphrey’s return home.
Now comes the final preparation for Humphrey until the release. Sea Turtle Recovery is increasing Humphrey’s food intake and performing final examinations. Humphrey enjoys eating primarily squid and shrimp, and the food increase will help to ensure that the Loggerhead will have time to acclimate back into the wild before needing to hunt for large amounts of prey.
“STR has worked tirelessly to make sure we minimized our interaction while giving Humphrey the best care possible. This sea turtle has remained wild and we have no doubt Humphrey will thrive upon release,” stated Deerr.
Sea Turtle Recovery provides food, medicine, water quality, and other needs for sea turtles primarily through donations, sea turtle adoption sponsorships, and grants. STR’s facility was built inside Turtle Back Zoo after Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo, Jr. heard of their need. Sea Turtle Recovery’s hospital is currently caring for four Loggerhead sea turtles and one Kemp’s Ridley sea turtle.
“I have watched Sea Turtle Recovery nurse this sea turtle back to health. They provide the best care and it’s phenomenal to watch the turtles rebound,” DiVincenzo said. “This is an example of the expanding role that zoos have to promote conservation and help strengthen animal populations that are threatened or in danger. Working with STR, we look forward to more turtles being rehabilitated at Turtle Back,” he added.
To learn more about Sea Turtle Recovery or to sponsor a sea turtle’s care, visit seaturtlerecovery.org or call 609-667-4076 for information. Turtle back Zoo hours and exhibits, including STR’s facility, can be found at turtlebackzoo.com. Information about the sea turtle release can be found at seaturtlerecovery.org, Jenkinson.com, and turtlebackzoo.com.
Sea Turtle Recovery, Brandi Biehl 609-667-4076