Aquarium's rescued sea turtles heading home

 On Vixen! On Prancer! On .... Oceana? They're probably not heading to the north pole, but the three sea turtles the National Aquarium released into the wild on Friday might just be heading in that general direction.

The aquarium and Oceana, an ocean protection organization, released three endangered Kemp’s ridley sea turtles into the Chesapeake Bay at Point Lookout State Park last week. The turtles had been recuperating at the aquqarium since last winter, when they were founded stranded in Cape Cod.

Kemp’s ridley’s are the most endangered and smallest of all sea turtle species, Aquarium officials say. The wintertime Massachusett's water temperature was especially dangerous for the sensitive turtles.

But after months of TLC and rehab, Oceana, Prancer and Vixen were ready to attempt a voyage home. Aquarium staff released them on the beach where people gathered to send them off with a round of good-byes.

During the summer, sea turtles like to feed on jellies and invertebrates in the Chesapeake Bay, Aquarium officials say, adding that they expect the threesome to stay nearby in the mid-Atlantic or head north before migrating south in the fall, when water temperatures begin cooling again.

One of the turtles, Oceana, is outfitted with a transmitter that will track its location and speed, so that researchers can learn more about turtles habits and movements. People are welcome to follow along at the Aquarium’s website.

"This year we successfully rehabilitated a total of 12 Kemp’s Ridley sea turtles, which was a huge undertaking for our program,” Jennifer Dittmar, stranding coordinator for the National Aquarium’s Marine Animal Rescue Program, said in a statement. “The expenses associated with their feeding and medical care left us with very little resources for tracking devices. Thanks to the generous support of Oceana we are able to track one of these turtles, and that is extremely important for this endangered species.”

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