Nearly 200 turtles released into the sea - Fox29 WFLX TV, West Palm Beach, FL-news & weather

Nearly 200 turtles released into the sea

JUPITER, FL (WFLX) After weeks of rehabilitation, a simple three hour trip returns nearly 200 baby sea turtles to their ocean home.

"We take them in, we feed them and we get them healthy, then we bring them out to the weed line to release them. It gives them a better chance...a stronger start to their lives," said Tommy Cutt, the Director of Operations for the Loggerhead Marinelife Center in Juno Beach.

Nearly 200 in all, the turtles were a mix of loggerhead and green sea turtles; some from as far as Ponce Inlet.

"The sea conditions have been very rough up in our area and we haven't been able to get a boat out offshore recently, and we have 111 hatchling and washback sea turtles, we brought them down here to get them back into the Gulfstream," said Michael Brothers, the Director of the Marine Science Center in Ponce Inlet, Florida.

In order to make sure the turtles stay at sea, the boat cruises out at least five miles, before dropping the turtles back into the ocean. "The winds out of the east and northeast blow the seaweed, called the Sargassum weed, a type of floating algae. When the wind drives the seaweed ashore, the washbacks come with that seaweed," said Brothers.

They are looking for large clumps of Sargassum, a baby turtle's best hope for evading predators. "The Sargassum weed line provides an area where they can hide from predators and continue to grow strong," said Cutt.

While the staff of the Marinelife Center and the Marine Science Center are accustomed to these sea-faring heroics, the crew of the Jupiter Dive Center's boat, and Dive Master Amy Lesh, have a unique perspective on the release.

"To get in there with 200 baby sea turtles and get to watch them as they go back out into the ocean, it's pretty exciting," said Lesh.

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