On the morning of June 13, 2015, the SeaWorld Orlando Animal Rescue Team returned a Kemp’s ridley sea turtle, the world’s most endangered species of sea turtle, to Canaveral National Seashore’s Playalinda Beach during the Titusville Sea Turtle Festival. Weighing 4.5 pounds at the time of rescue, the turtle has been thriving during the rehabilitation process, gaining strength and weight. The healthy turtle now weighs 8.5 pounds, nearly double its rescued weight.

The Kemp’s ridley sea turtle returned was part of the 72 sea turtles that were rescued last November during a mass cold stranding off the Massachusetts coast. They were transferred to SeaWorld Orlando from the New England Aquarium by the U.S. Coast Guard for rehabilitation and expert care.

Following the return only 8 of the 72 rescued sea turtles remain under the care of SeaWorld Orlando’s aquarium team and veterinarians. After a positive trend in health and several medical tests, a decision can be made on whether the animal is ready to be returned or if continued rehabilitation is needed. The remaining turtles will stay under the care of SeaWorld until they regain their strength with the goal of returning them in the coming weeks.

The turtle return took place during a beach cleanup as part of the festival. Participants watched as the SeaWorld team carried the turtle past the wave break and returned it to the ocean. Attendees of the beach cleanup included Jr. Turtle Rangers and local resident volunteers.

So far in 2015, SeaWorld Orlando has rescued 47 sea turtles and returned 67 to the ocean. For more than 50 years, SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment has helped animals in need – ill, injured, orphaned or abandoned, with the goal of returning them to the wild. More than 25,000 animals have been rescued by the expert animal rescue team that is on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

If you see an injured marine animal, you can help by calling the FWC hotline at (888) 404-3922 or by dialing *FWC on a cellular device. To learn more about SeaWorld’s commitment to animals and the environment, visit SeaWorldCares.com.

PHOTOS: © 2015 SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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