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Rehabbed Loggerhead Sea Turtle First Ever Released Into The Wild At Jersey Shore

POINT PLEASANT BEACH (CBSNewYork) - Humphrey has made history.

Humphrey is the first Loggerhead sea turtle released into the waters at the Jersey Shore following long-term rehabilitation.

"We are making history here today in New Jersey with the first released of a turtle taken care of and recovered at our facility," Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo said.

Humphrey is 12-years-old, but we won't know if it is a boy or a girl until it's matured by the age of 26.

The sea turtle washed ashore in Virginia on Dec. 24, 2016 suffering from a form of hypothermia: Apparently Humphrey didn't make it far enough south before cold temperatures left it stunned and suffering from a lung infection.

Humphrey was transferred to Sea Turtle Recovery at the Essex County Turtle Back Zoo in May after the Virginia facility became overcrowded with animals.

Prior to Sea Turtle Recovery opening in Dec. 2016, sea turtles needed to be released or transferred out of New Jersey within 45 days.

"New Jersey chose to make a difference for threatened and endangered sea turtles and, with continued support, Humphrey will be just the first of many releases" said Sea Turtle Rescue's Co-Executive Officer Bill Deerr.

The water quality and temperature were just right Tuesday for Humphrey to swim back into sea life safely.

It's a great time for Point Pleasant and New Jersey and for Humphrey," Point Pleasant Mayor Stephen Reid said.

Deerr's co-executive, Brandi Biehl, says Tuesday was also about education.

As a fun fact, a sea turtle's favorite food is jellyfish, which can often be mixed up with plastic to the detriment of the turtle.

"A lot of times they will swallow balloons, plastics get caught in debris and trash," she told CBS2's Meg Baker.

Pollution like that can be devastating to the species -- only one in 10,000 sea turtles will make it to adulthood, and there's a lot of work ahead to save the endangered species.

The recovery group tagged Humphrey so they can tag it's whereabouts. They say it's likely to stick around New Jersey until November or December, when it will most likely migrate south to warmer water.

For more information on Sea Turtle Rescue or to make a donation to it, click here.

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