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Georgia Aquarium Sea Turtle Returns to Sea

Loggerhead Sea Turtle, Joey, Released on St. Simons Island

St. Simons Island, GA (September 11, 2008) –

Joey, a straggler hatchling who was rescued almost six years ago, is going home to the Atlantic Ocean. Biologists from the Georgia Aquarium will participate in the facility’s second sea turtle release on Thursday, Sept. 11, 2008 on St. Simons Island, GA, in collaboration with the Georgia Sea Turtle Center.

Prior to the release, Joey will be fitted with a special satellite transmitter, providing Georgia Sea Turtle Center (GSTC) researchers and visitors to the GSTC and Georgia Aquarium Web sites 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.

“The Georgia Aquarium’s loggerhead sea turtle program has been important and hugely successful,” said Tim Mullican, Vice President, Veterinary Services and Husbandry at Georgia Aquarium. “Along with sea turtle Dylan, Joey was an amazing ambassador for sea turtles while at the Georgia Aquarium, and it is important that this sea turtle be released and continue to educate and inspire the future stewards of our oceans.”  

Joey, whose sex is unknown, was rescued on Aug. 14, 2002 and transferred to the Aquarium at Skidaway Institute for Oceanography in Savannah, GA. Joey then moved to the Georgia Aquarium 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 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.

The Aquarium's 4R Program (Rescue, Responsibility, Rehabilitation, Research) benefits sea turtles, sea otters, coral, whale sharks, manta rays, beluga whales and more. The Aquarium will continue its efforts with sea turtles with plans of releasing more animals in the future. To learn more about sea turtle conservation at the Georgia Aquarium, visit http://www.georgiaaquarium.org/conservation/currentProjects.aspx.

About the Georgia Aquarium
The Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta, Georgia, is the world’s largest with more than eight million gallons of water and the largest collection of aquatic animals. The mission of the Georgia Aquarium is to be an entertaining, educational and scientific institution featuring exhibits and programs of the highest standards; offering engaging and exciting guest experiences promoting the conservation of aquatic biodiversity throughout the world. The Georgia Aquarium is an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums and the Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums. For additional information, visit www.georgiaaquarium.org.

About the Georgia Sea Turtle Center
The Georgia Sea Turtle Center officially opened June 16, 2007 in Jekyll Island, Ga.’s National Historic Landmark District on the site of the original 1903 Power Plant building, much of which has been preserved and incorporated into the new facilities.  The ambitious, $3 million center, offering an outstanding museum-style and interactive learning experience and a state-of-the-art rehabilitation center and veterinary clinic that is visible to the general public, is the first of its kind in Georgia and focuses on sea turtle rehabilitation, research and education. For more information about the Georgia Sea Turtle Center and its programs, visit www.georgiaseaturtlecenter.org.

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