VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WVEC) -- It was a big day for more than a dozen sea turtles Wednesday: they went back home to the Atlantic Ocean!
There were two separate releases of rehabilitated turtles -- one in Virginia Beach and the other in the Outer Banks.
First, the Sea Turtle Assistance and Rehabilitation (STAR) Center, alongside the Network for Endangered Sea Turtles (NEST), released nine rehabilitated turtles at the Coquina Beach public access of Cape Hatteras National Seashore.
The animals are comprised of one loggerhead, five green, and three Kemp's ridley sea turtles. Eight of the turtles have recovered from cold-stunning, while the loggerhead recovered from shark bite injuries.
A short time later over in Virginia Beach, the Virginia Aquarium's Stranding Response Team released four more rehabbed turtles behind Neptune's Park on 31st Street.
The turtles are named Green Apple, Dahlia, Snapdragon, and Rose.
Green Apple is this season's first hooked loggerhead patient, and it's the second time he's been rehabbed! The turtle was first caught last August and released in October, only to get hooked again earlier this month.
Dahlia, another loggerhead, was hooked in the shoulder last week. The hook was quickly removed which led to a speedy recovery.
Snapdragon and Rose are both Kemp's Ridley turtles and were also hooked by anglers.
Experts say if you accidentally hook a turtle, don't try to remove the hook. Instead, keep the turtle in a shaded area until the stranding team arrives to help.
If you see a stranded, entangled, or hooked turtle, call the 24-hour hotline (757) 385-7575 or (252) 441-8622 in North Carolina.
The Virginia Aquarium Stranding Response Program is primarily funded by grants and donations and is in critical need of financial support. To help, you can visit their website for more information.