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The Virginia Aquarium will release five endangered turtles into the wild this morning that were hooked by local fishers earlier this year.
The aquarium’s Stranding Response Team will release the Kemps ridley turtles at 9 a.m. along the shore behind Neptune’s Park at 31st Street. The team chose a theme for the five creatures.
“This year’s naming theme for hooked rehab patients at the Aquarium is ‘herbs and spices,’” a release said.
Sage was the first hooked sea turtle of 2016; the animal was hooked in the throat at theVirginia Beach Fishing Pier, according to the aquarium. The animal will be given a tracker that will map its location after the release.
Shiso Charlie was hooked in the rear flipper, and was the first turtle recovered from Lynnhaven Fishing Pier.
A recreational fisher hooked Curry at the Virginia Beach Fishing Pier. Salt was hooked in the tongue at the same pier, and will also receive a tracker. Following an X-Ray assessment, another hook was found and removed. Hops, too, was hooked at the Virginia Beach Fishing Pier and will receive a tracker.
The aquarium started receiving calls about turtles in May, when the waters began heating up, according to Alex Costidis, the team coordinator. Many turtles are currently migrating from south to north, he said.
The Kemps ridley is the world’s most endangered turtle, according to National Geographic, which estimates only 1,000 breeding females to be in existence. The creatures like shallow waters and feed on crabs and other shellfish. They may live as long as 50 years.
The Stranding Response Team can be reached at a 24-hour hotline, 757 385-7575, for calls about hooked turtles. Anyone who sees a hooked turtle is urged to use a net to bring it onto a pier or boat and not to remove the hook or cut the line. If the line is cut, leave two feet attached. The turtle should be kept in a quiet, shaded area until team members get there.