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29 sea turtles released after being rescued from cold Gulf waters earlier this month

Posted at 6:15 PM, Jan 25, 2018
and last updated 2018-01-25 18:15:42-05

HONEYMOON ISLAND, Fla. — After weeks of recovery, 29 sea turtles rescued from the cold water at the beginning of this month were released on Thursday at Honeymoon Island.

Nearly 30 sea turtles are going back home to the Gulf of Mexico. But just a few weeks ago home was a dangerous place.

RELATED: Dozens of stunned sea turtles still being rescued from Florida coast

We were there when a weak little turtle named Galaxy was rescued when the Hernando County Marine Program spotted her floating helplessly in the frigid water.

She was taken to Clearwater Marine Aquarium and has been recovering ever since. 

On Thursday, Galaxy was healthy and eager to return home, now that the water is warmer and safe again.

"A lot of consideration goes into whether or not it is safe for these turtles to go back. Water conditions, temperatures, weather coming in, so this is a big group effort with Florida Fish and Wildlife to determine if this is appropriate and everyone was in agreement that this was the appropriate thing for the turtles today," Shelly Marquardt  the veterinarian at Clearwater Marine Aquarium said.

29 green sea turtles with similar stories to Galaxy’s were carried one by one into the water. 

All of the turtles happily flapping away, touching the hearts of more than 100 people who came to cheer on them on.

"There’s a lot of tears in the eyes of our staff because these turtles become part of our family but our job is to get them well and get them back in the wild,"  said Dave Yates Clearwater Marine Aquarium CEO. 

Clearwater Marine Aquarium took in a total of 70 turtles during the cold weather.

Some of the turtles were too sick and didn't make it, many of the others need more time to recover. 

RECOMMENDED: More than 200 cold-stunned sea turtles rescued by FWC as cold temps invade Florida