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Aquarium Veterinary Team to Release Endangered Sea Turtle After its Rescue and Recovery from Surgery

Aquarium staff members will transport the green sea turtle to the water’s edge and release it near the mouth of the San Gabriel River on October 8 at 10:30 a.m.

Members of the Aquarium of the Pacific’s veterinary and animal husbandry staff will release a rehabilitated female green sea turtle weighing 160 pounds near the mouth of the San Gabriel River in Seal Beach, California, on October 8, 2019.

The sea turtle was transported from where it was stranded and rescued in the San Gabriel River to the Aquarium of the Pacific. Marine Animal Rescue brought it to the Aquarium with authorization from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Fisheries office for a medical evaluation and care because of the Aquarium’s expertise in treating and releasing stranded and injured sea turtles. An identification tag showed that this turtle had been previously examined in 2014 by NOAA sea turtle biologists in the San Gabriel River. Since then it has grown about 8 inches and gained about 90 pounds.

When the sea turtle arrived at the Aquarium about a month ago, it was weak and dehydrated. X-rays identified a fishing hook lodged in the esophagus near the stomach. Endoscopic surgery was used to remove the hook and attached fishing line, which can prove fatal to sea turtles if left untreated. It took about one month for the sea turtle to recover and resume eating and for the Aquarium’s veterinary team to determine the sea turtle was healthy for release.

The release location was chosen for its warm water temperatures and because it is a common migratory habitat for this sea turtle species. Aquarium volunteers conduct a monthly count of green sea turtles seen in the San Gabriel River through a citizen science program. To learn more, visit and click on Conservation.

The Aquarium of the Pacific has rehabilitated and released several sea turtles in recent years, including the most recent one in August of 2019. Some have been fitted with satellite tracking devices that allowed scientists to gather data about their migration patterns and habitats. The sea turtle being released on October 8 is fitted with a microchip ID and metal flipper tag. According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, breeding colony populations of green sea turtles in Florida and on the Pacific Coast of Mexico are listed as endangered; all others are listed as threatened.

When: Tuesday, October 8, 2019 at 10:15 a.m. – Aquarium staff members plan to release the rescued sea turtle promptly at 10:30 a.m.

Media RSVP: To RSVP for the media opportunity to watch as the sea turtle is released, please contact Marilyn Padilla at or (562) 951-1684 or Nicole Sarmiento at or (562) 951-3197.

Where: 15 1st Street, Seal Beach, California, 90740: Aquarium staff members will release the turtle from the sandy beach about 100 to 200 feet from the parking lot, depending on the tide level.