WILMINGTON – Seven baby Loggerhead sea turtles will get a second chance, as students with Cape Fear Community College’s Marine Technology Program are set to release the rehabilitated hatchlings into the Gulf Stream off the coast of North Carolina this week.
Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitating Center coordinated the release of the hatchlings during the student’s senior research trip, underway aboard the R/V Cape Hatteras this week, according to Katie Merritt, community relations assistant with Cape Fear Community College.
Jean Beasley, director of the sea turtle rehabilitation center, contacted the marine technology program in efforts to save the baby sea turtles. The rescued sea turtles were delivered to Cape Fear’s downtown campus Monday by a student who has been volunteering with the Topsail-based rescue group since she was a child, Merritt said.
During their hatching, the baby sea turtles experienced temporary paralysis and could not make it to the ocean. The Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Center rescued the hatchlings and brought them to health. The rehabilitated sea turtles boarded the R/V Cape Hatteras, the college’s marine research vessel, on Monday morning prior to the student’s trip underway.
“Because of the partnership with CFCC, these hatchlings have a new chance at life. At the turtle hospital, we always try to mimic the natural life of a sea turtle,” Beasley said. “When CFCC releases them into the Gulf Stream, they will be in the best, most healthy place possible.”
The students are the first aboard the vessel to release sea turtles into the ocean, “providing unique enrichment to course material,” according to the college. CFCC student Tyshon Jones has traveled four times aboard the R/V Cape Hatteras, but was excited about his upcoming trip at sea.
“I’ve never done anything like this before. The entire class is thrilled. It’s rewarding to be so close to an animal we’ve studied in our classes. The Marine Technology Program has connected me with experiences I will always remember,” Jones said.
The students will be traveling to Norfolk, Virginia to tour the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Norfolk Regional Center. This tour will showcase state-of-the-art marine technology and connect students to potential future employment.
The sea turtles will be released into a grassy area of the Gulf Stream sometime during their journey this week, Merritt said.
CFCC will also be releasing a small research boat that uses GPS technology to track currents and wind in the Atlantic Ocean. Previous drifters have traveled to Ireland and tracked the winds of recent Hurricane Matthew.
For more information about the Marine Technology Program visit the college’s website. To volunteer, donate or find out more about the Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Center, click here.
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