Freedom of the seas

20 turtles get released

Seven Mile Beach Public Beach thronged with visitors and residents on Thursday as crowds gathered for the 26th annual turtle release.

Cecilia Oliemuller

Cecilia Oliemuller releases a green sea turtle at the annual turtle release, held Thursday at Seven Mile Beach Public Beach. Photo: Joanna Lewis

Twenty yearlings from Boatswain’s Beach – the new home of the Cayman Turtle Farm – were carried down to the water’s edge and released into their natural habitat.

The yearlings, which eagerly made their way out to sea, were set free by 20 volunteers selected in a draw earlier this month.

Excitement mounted as a pickup truck carrying the green sea turtles pulled up to the beach at 5pm sharp. Crowds were quick to gather round for a peek at the lucky turtles set to make their own way in their natural habitat.

Staff from Boatswain’s Beach handed out a turtle to each of the release volunteers, who then had to scramble their way through the crowds to the shoreline.

A relatively calm sea ensured an easy beginning to the start of the turtles’ adventures in the wild.

Some volunteers placed their turtles on to the sand just before the shoreline and watched as they slowly trundled into the sea. Others gave their turtles an easier start, placing them directly into the sea.

Many from the crowd removed shoes and rolled up trousers, entering the water to get a closer look at the turtles taking their first swim in the wild.

Some visitors even donned snorkels and flippers and swam out with the turtles, coaxing them on their way.

With plenty of encouragement from the gathered crowds and volunteer releasers the young turtles could be seen quickly making their way out to sea.

The Cayman Turtle Farm is the world’s only breeding farm of green sea turtles with approximately 1200 turtles. The annual turtle release has seen some 30,000 turtles released into the wild since 1980.

It is hoped that the turtles will one day return to Grand Cayman to nest.

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