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National Aquarium returns 25 rehabilitated turtles home

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BALTIMORE -- The National Aquarium returned 25 cold-stunned sea turtles home to the ocean last month after successful rehabilitation, the aquarium said Thursday.  

The National Aquarium Animal Rescue found the turtles, 13 Kemp's ridley and 12 green sea turtles, cold stunned on the shores of Massachusetts last November. Of the 25, 15 of them were treated by the National Aquarium, while seven were treated by the Mystic Aquarium and three went to the Virginia Aquarium. 

Cold-stunning is a phenomenon in which sea turtles experience medical issues after extended exposure to cold water. The turtles were treated for a slew of ailments including "severe pneumonia, shell, eye and skin lesions, missing limbs, gastrointestinal infections, dehydration, emaciation, blood infections and several cases of osteomyelitis" the aquarium said. 

"Every sea turtle patient is a unique individual, and our team is in tune with even the most minute changes in their progress during the rehabilitation process. It is an incredibly rewarding experience to be a part of their road to recovery, and we look forward every year to the moment each patient gets a clean bill of health," said rehabilitation manager Caitlin Bovery in a statement.  

The turtles were all named after beach destinations, and the aquarium said the youngest of the bunch was Dewey, who weighed in at only 2.2 pounds. Dewey, who was estimated to be one or two years old, was at higher risk of pneumonia and a long recovery, but the aquarium said he bounced back quickly. 

"Dewey had a voracious appetite from day one, even to the point of stealing food from other turtles in his enclosure that were over four times his size," the aquarium said. 

The turtles were released on February 22 in St. Augustine, Florida. 

 "The joy of seeing these animals through to their return to sea instills a great sense of pride in the dedication of our team and the commitment of the Aquarium to rehabilitate these critically endangered species."

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