As the saying goes, “I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream!” So perhaps this Thursday, when two ice-cream-flavor-named green sea turtles are released at First Landing State Park at 11 a.m., the crowd will cheer for them and the Virginia Aquarium Stranding Response Team who rescued and rehabilitated them.
“Mint Chocolate Cookie” stranded on the beach in Fort Story December 14, 2012. The green sea turtle was lethargic due to an internal temperature of 60 degrees F. Diagnosed as cold-stunned, the turtle was taken to the Aquarium’s Marine Animal Care Center where its internal body temperature was gradually raised with warmer waters over a period of several days.
Another green cold-stunned sea turtle, “Pistachio, Pistachio” was found later that same month, December 29, 2012, on the shores of False Cape State Park. Its internal temperature was 55 degrees F, even further from the desired low 70’s.
Both “Mint” and “Pistachio” have already received pit identification tags. They will also be fitted with small acoustic tags which will send a coded message identifying the turtle to receivers stationed in Chesapeake Bay and coastal ocean waters, giving staff and others an idea of their local movements. This tagging effort is funded by the Navy Fleet Forces Command.
The public is invited to watch the turtle release. Limited parking is available near the First Landing State Park Information Center and there is a nominal fee. The release will be conducted near the walkway that leads to the beach.
Green sea turtles (Chelonia mydas) are commonly found in Virginia’s coastal waters. A green sea turtle can be seen on exhibit in the Aquarium’s Bay & Ocean Pavilion Chesapeake Light Tower Aquarium.
The Virginia Aquarium Stranding Response Program’s mission is to promote the conservation of marine animal species through stranding response, research, rehabilitation and education. It is largely a volunteer-based group operating from the Aquarium’s Marine Animal Care Center in Virginia Beach. The program is supported by the Virginia Aquarium Foundation through donations from the community, and grant-making organizations. To report a dead or live stranded marine mammal or sea turtle call the Virginia Aquarium Stranding Response Program 24-hour hotline at (757) 385-7575.
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