Georgia vets return sea turtles to ocean after long recovery

loggerhead turtle
In this Tuesday, March 12, 2019 photo, a loggerhead turtle swims in a tank at a marine animal rehabilitation center near Boston. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

A pair of rare sea turtles have returned to the ocean after veterinarians spent nearly a year nursing them back to health on the Georgia coast.

The adult female loggerhead turtles were released into the surf Friday on the beach at Jekyll Island. Both had been patients at the Georgia Sea Turtle Center, the island’s hospital for sick and injured sea turtles.

One was admitted last May after getting struck by a boat, according to a Jekyll Island news release. The other arrived in July after being found anemic and covered in barnacles and leeches.

A few hundred people, including children on school trips, turned out to bid the sea turtles farewell. It was the first time the Georgia Sea Turtle Center has held a turtle release publicly since 2019.

The turtles returned to the wild just before the nesting season for loggerhead sea turtles begins in Georgia on May 1.