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National Aquarium returns rehabilitated sea turtles home in first public release since 2019

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CBS News Baltimore Live

BALTIMORE -- In its first public release since 2019, the National Aquarium returned two rehabilitated sea turtles to the ocean last Friday. 

Bassoon and Cello, two Kemp's ridley sea turtles, were released at Assateague State Park. Bassoon, who was one of the more critical turtles and couldn't open his jaw, notably received acupuncture treatment in his recovery process. 

The duo arrived with 29 other cold-stunned turtles from Cape Cod, Massachusetts, in November. 

Releases are the culmination of the aquarium's Animal Rescue Program, which helps rehabilitate stranded marine life along the more than 3,000 miles of Maryland's coast and coordinates with organizations across the mid-Atlantic.   

Kemp's ridley sea turtles, Cello and Bassoon, are released at Assateague State Park | August 18, 2022 Philip Smith

U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen, who the aquarium says has been a champion of sea turtle rescue and rehabilitation funding, was in attendance for the release. He and the aquarium advocate for increased federal funding to the rescue and rehabilitation of sea turtles. 

"The National Aquarium has rescued and rehabilitated sea turtles for over three decades, but over half our patients have come in over the last eight years," said National Aquarium CEO John Racanelli. "The science suggests that sea turtle strandings are only going to increase in the years ahead, along with the costs of rescuing, caring for, and releasing them. Absent sustained and direct federal funding, it is unclear how long non-profit first responders like us can continue to provide this service to the nation."

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