Support Us - Research & Conservation

Loggerhead Sea Turtles at Georgia Aquarium

Through Georgia Aquarium's 4R Program, we are able to rehabilitate and release loggerhead sea turtles back into their natural habitats. We are also able to provide satellite tagging for turtles, which allows them to be tracked after their release. You can help the Aquarium provide care for animals like Joey and Dylan by donating to the Aquarium's 4R Program. Click here to see how you can help.

This fall, Georgia Aquarium, together with Litton Entertainment and Jeff Corwin, is taking the cameras around the world in an effort to fathom the ancient connections between life in the sea - and life on the rest of the planet. These exciting stories will be told each weekend on Ocean Mysteries with Jeff Corwin, an exciting new TV series which is part of Litton Entertainment’s Weekend Adventure, airing on WSB TV in Atlanta and across the country on ABC-TV affiliates each Saturday morning starting September 3.

With Ocean Mysteries with Jeff Corwin and its important messages about conservation, ocean research and the importance of preserving aquatic life around the world, Georgia Aquarium hopes to inspire a passion within the next generation of scientists, researchers and marine biologists on their path toward a new era of conservation.

The story of Murphy, the loggerhead sea turtle, and his journey from rescue, to rehabilitation, and finally to release back into the wild is featured on episode 3 of Ocean Mysteries with Jeff Corwin.

Murphy's Story

Rescued in 2009 - Released Aug. 31, 2011

Murphy - As a stranded hatchling, Murphy first lived at the Jekyll Island 4H Center and later headed to the Georgia Aquarium. While at the Aquarium, he was an ambassador to its species by educating millions of our guests about this charismatic species and the perils they face. Murphy grew to a size that would increase its chance of survival, so it was time to plan a release. On Wednesday, Aug. 31, Aquarium transport team members moved Murphy to a specially designed transport unit. Aquarium veterinarians, biologists and transport team members traveled with Murphy as they went from Atlanta to the turtle's final destination on the beach of Jekyll Island. We hope that Murphy will reproduce and help the population increase in the wild.

As if the animal release wasn't exciting enough, Emmy Award-winning TV host and animal advocate, Jeff Corwin, joined the Aquarium for this special occasion to film an episode for the upcoming television series Ocean Mysteries. Georgia Aquarium, working in partnership with Litton Entertainment, will launch Ocean Mysteries, an all-new, 26-episode, weekly TV series to be featured on ABC beginning September 3, 2011, and Murphy will be featured in an episode!

Track Sunny and Ada Lee

Rescued Feburary 2010 - Released July 14, 2010

See pictures of the release.

Sunny - Sunny is named in honor of SunTrust Banks, presenting sponsor of the Georgia Explorer gallery at the Georgia Aquarium. Sunny is one of the five turtles rescued during February's cold stun, which were rehabilitated back to health at Georgia Aquarium's quarantine facility. Thanks to our partners at SunTrust and to our 4R donors, we are able to participate in a rehabilitation and release program with Georgia Sea Turtle Center. To learn more about our sea turtle program, be sure to visit Georgia Explorer during your next visit!

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Ada Lee - Ada Lee is named in honor of Ada Lee and Pete Correll, benefactors of The Correll Center of Aquatic Animal Health at the Georgia Aquarium. Through their generosity, Georgia Aquarium is home to the first integrated veterinary Ph.D. program in a zoo or aquarium. This dedicated veterinary services area in Georgia Aquarium allows our team and students from UGA's College of Veterinary Medicine the opportunity to learn at the world's most magical aquarium. To learn more about The Correll Center, participate in a Behind the Scenes Tour on your next visit.

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Georgia Aquarium and Georgia Sea Turtle Center Release Rescued Sea Turtles Back to Ocean

Rescued Feburary 2010 - Released July 14, 2010

The Georgia Aquarium and its Dolphin Conservation Field Station (DCFS), along with the Georgia Sea Turtle Center, released seven loggerhead sea turtles, along with a green sea turtle, off the beach of Jekyll Island on Wednesday, July 14. The animals were fitted with scientific satellite tracking devices so their migration, behavior and progress can be tracked to current locations and studied.

The organizations came to the rescue of the stranded sea turtles, a threatened species, off the coast of North Carolina in February when ocean water temperatures dropped below 50 degrees. The lives of 5,000 sea turtles were threatened in the Southeast - 4,500 in Florida alone. The stranding of these turtles, along with the stranding and beaching of thousands of other aquatic life, has unfolded to tell a global climate story, show near-catastrophic results.

"This is an unprecedented wildlife mortality and is borderline catastrophic," said Dr. Gregory Bossart, senior vice president and chief veterinary officer of the Georgia Aquarium. "With such extreme changes in our environment, there is growing evidence of global climate change, and unfortunately, wildlife is paying the price. As a steward for conservation and education, our mission is to make a difference in the aquatic community."

Turtle rehabilitation and rescue facilities all over Florida and the Carolinas rushed to aid the animals and to provide housing, but quickly reached capacity. The Georgia Aquarium and Georgia Sea Turtle Center were contacted by overwhelmed facilities to help care for the stranded animals. Under guarded health status, the animals were transported to the Georgia Aquarium's quarantine facility in Atlanta and the Georgia Sea Turtle Center, where staff have been treating and monitoring the animals since February.

"All of the animals came into the facilities with lesions on their shells, heads, flippers and necks. Some even had heavy pitting in their shells, while all were severely underweight and malnourished. Veterinary staff and biologists worked around the clock, tending to wound care, drawing blood, conducting x-rays, providing antibiotic therapy and holding routine exams monitoring body condition over time. Once the staff felt as though the animals exhibited a healthy status, the team began introducing live food into their diets to ensure their natural predatory instincts would again take over once released."

See pictures from the turtle release.

Georgia Aquarium Rescues Five Loggerhead Sea Turtles

Rescued Feburary 2010

The Georgia Aquarium's Dolphin Conservation Field Station (GAI-DCFS) aided in the timely rescue efforts of a group of stranded loggerhead sea turtles from the coast of North Carolina. As ocean water temperatures dropped below 50 degrees during the previous weeks, thousands of sea turtles became stranded in the Southeast. Turtle rehabilitation and rescue facilities all over Florida and the Carolinas were housing rescued turtles, but reached capacity.

The Georgia Aquarium and the Georgia Sea Turtle Center were contacted by overwhelmed facilities to help care for these stranded animals. The GAI-DCFS ambulance drove to the North Carolina/South Carolina border where Aquarium veterinary staff members coordinated the transfer of five turtles from the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission, who also collaborated with sea turtle rehabilitation facilities in North Carolina and Georgia. The animals, which had a medical status of guarded, were transported to the Aquarium’s quarantine and warehouse facility in Atlanta, where staff were ready to treat and monitor the animals in an effort to save them.

The cold snap that swept the Southeast threatened the lives of an estimated 5,000 turtles; 4,500 in Florida alone. The last comparable cold weather sea turtle stranding was in 2001, which affected 400 turtles. Reports of motionless sea turtle sightings poured in by the hundreds during the previous weeks, prompting the attention of local rescue and rehabilitation centers as well as state departments of natural resources.

See pictures from the turtles' arrival at Georgia Aquarium.

Talbot's Story

Released December 2009 - Courtesy of the Georgia Sea Turtle Center

In September 2009, the Georgia Sea Turtle Center received a phone call from a sea turtle volunteer about a stranded loggerhead sea turtle entangled in fishing gear on Amelia Island, FL. Unable to move the turtle, the volunteer went in search of help. By the time she returned, the tide had come in and the turtle was gone.

The following day, the GSTC received a second call about a sea turtle entangled in fishing gear on Talbot Island, one island south of Amelia. It was the same turtle from the day before.

The turtle, named Talbot, was taken to GSTC for immediate treatment. Talbot had thick rope around both shoulders, which had embedded in the skin of the left shoulder exposing muscles and tendons, while the right shoulder had a minor wound. Talbot's right flipper tip also showed indications of dead tissue. The team removed varying amounts of tissue and bone each day until healthy tissue was exposed. Eventually, the team performed surgery to remove all remaining dead tissue and bone. The wound healed remarkably fast and Talbot's appetite increased, and the turtle put on some weight. Talbot's right flipper was also still very functional.

Talbot recovered so well that the GSTC decided to schedule the turtle's release for late December. Talbot was released off Cape Canaveral National Seashore. Before being released, Talbot was fitted with a satellite tag, with help from the Georgia Aquarium, which allows the turtle's movements to be tracked.

For more information about the GeorgiaSea Turtle Center and its programs, visit www.georgiaseaturtlecenter.org.

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Meet Georgia Aquarium's Loggerhead Sea Turtles

Joey's Story

Released September 11, 2008

On August 14, 2002, Joey entered the world as a straggler hatchling. Joey was transferred to the Aquarium at Skidaway Institute for Oceanography in Savannah, GA. Joey joined the Georgia Aquarium family on Jan. 16, 2006, joining loggerhead sea turtle Dylan, who was released in June 2008. While at the Georgia Aquarium, Joey gained 88 lbs and grew 8.5 inches in length. During its last physical, the turtle weighed 117 lbs, and its carapace was 31 inches long.

On April 30, 2008, Joey, whose sex is unknown, was transported to the Aquarium's off-site quarantine facility in order to be weaned off human care in preparation for release. After four months of successfully learning the skills needed to return to its native habitat - including identifying and capturing natural prey such as blue crabs, horseshoe crabs and whelks – the time has come for the Georgia Aquarium to say goodbye to Joey.

Biologists from the Georgia Aquarium, in collaboration with the Georgia Sea Turtle Center, released Joey on Thursday, Sept. 11, 2008 on St. Simons Island, GA. Prior to the release, Joey was fitted with a special satellite transmitter, provided by Georgia Aquarium, which allows Georgia Sea Turtle Center (GSTC) researchers and visitors to the GSTC and Georgia Aquarium websites the opportunity to monitor Joey's activities and movements. By studying these movements, researchers may be able to document some of the differences between learned and inherited behaviors of sea turtles.

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VIDEO OF JOEY

You can help the Aquarium release more sea turtles by donating to our 4R Program! Click here to learn more.

Dylan's Story

Released June 30, 2008

Dylan's life began on the beach of Jekyll Island, Georgia, where the hatchling straggler was rescued on August 26, 1998. The turtle was taken to the Tidelands Nature Center, where she lived for several years. After outgrowing the Tidelands Nature Center, the Georgia Aquarium partnered with Tidelands, and Dylan was moved in November 2005 to a new habitat at the Georgia Aquarium.

While at the Aquarium, Dylan was seen by more than 4.9 million guests and was a successful example of the Aquarium's 4R program (Rehabilitation, Responsibility, Rescue and Research). The 4R Program is designed to positively impact the health and well-being of aquatic life from around the world.

While at the Aquarium, Dylan's size doubled! Weighing in at close to 140 lbs and measuring more than 19.5 inches, it was time for the Georgia Aquarium to say goodbye to Dylan. Dylan was transported in May 2007 from the Georgia Aquarium to the Georgia Sea Turtle Center on Jekyll Island, where she began learning the skills needed to return to her native habitat.

On June 30, 2008, members of the Georgia Aquarium and the Georgia Sea Turtle Center partnered to release Dylan off the same coast where she was found nearly 10 years ago. Before being released, Dylan was fitted with a satellite tag, provided by Georgia Aquarium, so that the turtle's migration and behavior can be recorded and studied. It is now possible to track Dylan’s progress and see her current location.

Track Dylan

VIDEO OF DYLAN

You can help the Aquarium release more sea turtles by donating to our 4R Program! Click here to learn more.

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