Dylan the sea turtle heads back out to sea

By Brooke Kelley - bio | email

JEKYLL ISLAND, GA (WTOC) - Today is a big day for the Georgia Sea Turtle Center on Jekyll Island. It opened about a year ago and now one of its first patients has headed out to sea.

Someone found a baby loggerhead ten years ago. It spent those years in captivity in centers all around Georgia until today.

Dylan has spent the past few months in a tank at the Georgia Sea Turtle Center learning how to catch food.

She and her brother Bob were found on the shores of the Atlantic ocean when they were babies and too weak to survive on their own. They both were nursed back to health Bob has already been released back into the ocean and now its Dylan's turn.

Dr. Terry Norton doctor of veterinary services at the Sea Turtle Center has been preparing Dylan for this day.

"We have had her for a year getting her to eat live food and horseshoe crab and blue crab and all the things they can eat in the wild, and what they are supposed to eat in the wild," said Norton.

But before they could release Dylan doctors had to fit her with a satellite transmitter. It will let veterinarians track her and make sure she's doing ok in her natural habitat.

"There's always concerns but turtles are hard wired, they are left as babies and once a sea turtle lays eggs they leave so they have all the information hard wired into their brain," said Norton.

Now the moment everyone has been waiting years for as doctors moved Dylan from the Sea Turtle Center to the sand where her fans waited with anticipation as the van with Dylan pulled on to the beach.

Dylan is very popular and hundreds of people are here to watch the release, she was first at Tideland Nature Center on Jekyll Island for years, then the Georgia Aquarium for two years and back to Jekyll Island for one year at the Sea Turtle Center.

"Basically an icon for sea turtles in general," said Norton.

At first Dylan had no problems getting in the water, in fact she motored down the beach.

But it was a different story once she hit deeper water, she started to turn around. But with a little help from pal Dr. Norton, Dylan's confidence returned and she headed out to the open sea.

"Initially concerning, there's a lot of mud out there so I was nervous about that, but once in deeper water she started swimming and we will watch her on satellite," said Norton.

Fans like Annie Chandler and Leann Shell describe watching her in person take to the sea."It's very exciting it's awesome," said Chandler.

"It's just so amazing very awesome and I didn't know she would go and she did it, was great; it was great," said Shell.

A great ending that is really just the beginning for Dylan the sea turtle.