When packing for a road trip, one does not usually think to pack the turtle food.
But Sunday evening, a group of New England Aquarium biologists — and four loggerhead sea turtles — headed along the coast, searching for water warm enough to set the reptiles free.
The group traveled to a seaside national park on the Delmarva Peninsula to release the last of a group of sea turtles that had stranded on Cape Cod beaches last fall, according to a statement from the aquarium.
To release the turtles, which had suffered from hypothermia after they washed ashore, the biologists needed to find 70-degree water.
After hours of driving, they found the spot at Assateague Island National Seashore in Virginia.
The 40-to-100-pound sea turtles were unpacked from their crates and placed about 25 yards from the water.
About 200 people looked on as each turtle experienced the ocean for the first time in seven months, according to the statement.
Tony LaCasse, a spokesman for the aquarium, said turtle releases are always exciting.
“People spontaneously start to clap and roar when the turtles hit the surf,” LaCasse said. “Really, it’s an affirmation of life.”
The biologists will still keep tabs on the turtles.
Two had satellite tags glued to their backs so aquarium workers can monitor their location for the next six to nine months, aquarium officials said.
“When the biologists say goodbye to the turtles, they have mixed feelings,” LaCasse said.
“They are tremendously excited to see them go, but they will miss them.”
The loggerheads were the last of more than 85 sea turtles that were stranded on Cape Cod in November.
They were rescued by staff members at the Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary.
The turtles were then transported to the Aquarium’s sea turtle hospital in Quincy, where they were warmed and treated, the aquarium said.
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