A New Jersey nonprofit took in a trio of sea turtles while returning from releasing six turtles back into the wild.
"It is always an emotional goodbye to watch sea turtles swim away healthy after long hours working to save them." STR co-executive officer Brandi Biehl said. "Then the realization hits that there are so many more needing help; not in a month or a week but immediately."
The STR staff picked up two loggerhead sea turtles weighing around 50 pounds from a Virginia facility while on the way back from North Carolina and volunteers from MERR Institute in Lewes, Delaware dropped off a third loggerhead.
STR treated the three new loggerheads — the first at the facility — for pneumonia, the group said.
"Sea Turtle Recovery takes sea turtles from other states to help create space for new animals that wash ashore with severe trauma and illness," co-executive officer Bill Deerr said. "Our long-term care facility can help out of state facilities as well as take any critical cases that may wash ashore in New Jersey needing long term care."
The hope is to get the loggerheads healthy enough to be released into the water. In the meantime, they are a beloved addition to the zoo.
"The loggerhead sea turtles are a big addition to Turtle Back Zoo’s Conservation efforts, and I look forward to watching their progress and recovery," Essex County Executive Joe DiVincenzo said.
The carnivorous loggerhead, which can weigh 250 pounds or more, is the most prolific sea turtle in United States waters, National Geographic reports. The turtles, which measure up to 3-feet long, are the largest of all hard-shelled turtles.