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Sea Turtles Return To The Ocean After Rehabilitation

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- If you love something, set it free.

A group of Kemp's ridley sea turtles are back swimming in Cape Canaveral, Florida after completing their three months of rehabilitation at the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium.

The endangered sea turtles washed up on the New England coast in December in "cold-stunned condition."

"What 'cold-stunned turtle' really means is that they got caught out in the water, the weather changed, and for whatever reason, got disoriented, and they weren't able to migrate south and follow the warmer weather," Dr. Ginger Sturgeon said.

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On Sunday, the 15 rescued sea turtles were back in good condition and ready to be released into the wild. Josianne Romasco, PPG Aquarium Sea Turtle Second Chance Program Coordinator, said that the goodbye is bittersweet.

"We are very happy that the turtles have recovered and are ready for release but we are also going to miss them," she said. "We have been caring for these guys since their arrival in December but our ultimate goal is to return a healthy sea turtle back to the ocean. That moment of release into the ocean makes all the hard work worthwhile."

Before they're cleared for takeoff, the turtles undergo a final physical exam to make sure they are able to catch live fish. They also get lathered up with a type of gel for the flight.

The turtles' trip to Florida is part of a new partnership between the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium and the Pittsburgh Aviation Animal Rescue Team. Joining the Pittsburgh turtles, is a group of 16 others from Massachusetts who have also  been rehabilitated and ready to return to the sea.

Monday morning, the Pittsburgh Aviation Animal Rescue Team released a video of our green friends being released back into the water.

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