Sea turtle is released into the Atlantic ... again | News

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Sea turtle is released into the Atlantic ... again
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FLAGLER COUNTY, Fla. -- As a van with Edwina the sea turtle pulled up to northern Flagler County near Marineland on Tuesday morning, Scott Eastman was waiting.

"I'm very excited. Very excited," Eastman said. "A very good day."

A crew from the Georgia Sea Turtle Center pulled a large white bin out of the van's back door.  Edwina - known as Ed -- was at the bottom of the container, nestled in towels.

SLIDESHOW: Edwina the sea turtle released near Marineland

Edwina is a green sea turtle and weighs about 25-30 pounds.

Some people gathered in awe.

Edwina was lifted and carted toward the sand and the waves.

She'd been through all that before.

Edwina has been stranded twice on the First Coast and she has been rehabilitated twice at the Georgia Sea Turtle Center.

Last year, she came ashore injured on Ponte Vedra Beach. After about a year of treatment, she's ready to go back to the waves.

Amy Hupp, a Rehabilitation Technician with the Georgia Sea Turtle Center, said, "She was stranded in Florida, so we took her back to Florida."

But this time, Edwina is being released with a satellite tracking device attached to the top of her shell. Donations and help from groups such as Keepers of the Coast helped pay the costs.

The tracking device will allow Eastman to monitor her every move, nearly.

"The way it works is ... it has to surface. She'll surface to breathe or to feed. It [the device] has two saltwater switches on it so when it's out of the water, it transmits a signal."

That signal goes to a satellite and then eventually Eastman gets a notification.

You can even keep track of Edwina by clicking here.  

Tracking will help biologists understand what the endangered species does in the water and where it goes.

"Gaining more insight into that helps us with protection measures and conservation of marine turtles," Eastman noted.

What's the big deal about protecting sea turtles?  Eastman explained that it helps support and maintain the total environment.  He compared it to the game of Jenga.

"If you look at Jenga, you can pull out pieces. You ask, 'What's going to make the entire column collapse?'  You never know which piece that may be," he explained. "It may be sea turtles. We just don't know."

So as Edwina was carried to the water, the crowd watched.

Sea Turtle Patrol volunteer Sonja Zander of Flagler County wanted to see the moment.

"Seeing a healthy turtle released into the ocean brings tears to my eyes," Zander said as her voice cracked. "It's an emotional experience for me because they don't all get that opportunity."

Then, Edwina was released and she eased her way into the waves.   

The small crowd on the beach cheered.

Those who celebrated and those who nursed Edwina back to health wondered where she'll go.

So does Eastman.

"Yes, I do," Eastman said. "I can't wait to get back to my computer and track where she is."

They all know she is home again.

You can also monitor Edwina in the ocean. Click here.

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