Five sea turtles got a new start Thursday when they sprinted their way—turtle-style, of course—into the Atlantic Ocean.
After recovering from various injuries at Juno Beach’s Loggerhead Marinelife Center, Audubon, Mayflower, Laddie, Munchkin and Tiny Tim got the green light to start their new, independent lives in the open water—but who would win the race to the sea?
Throughout the week, the marinelife center let fans on Facebook and Instagram vote for which of the three loggerhead turtles—Audubon, Mayflower or Laddie—would come out on top.
No clear favorite emerged in the voting, with everyone having different explanations about why they believed their pick was the fastest. The true test came Thursday at 11 a.m.
Taking a cue from the similar-sounding famous high-speed German highway, Audubon took first place in the sprint, with Laddie behind him in second. Mayflower finished last. The other two sea turtles were released once the loggerheads reached the water.
Heat indexes in the 90s didn’t keep people from traveling to witness the event. Stacey Flanagan, 46, and her daughter Haley, 9, drove up from Lake Worth to watch the turtles return to their true home.
“They’re beautiful creatures,” Flanagan said.
The turtles have come a long way in the last few months. Audubon and Mayflower, both juvenile loggerhead sea turtles, were found in Cape Cod in January, stranded, stunned and frostbitten by the cold weather.
On top of his injuries from the cold weather, Audubon faced more challenges because of his crooked jaw, a birth defect that is thought to cause baby sea turtles to die in the wild before they reach maturity.
“We thought he was in a bar fight,” said David Whitely, a rehab volunteer at Loggerhead Marinelife Center.
Laddie, another loggerhead sea turtle, was found by the Currie Park Fishing Pier in West Palm Beach in May. Laddie had constriction injuries from a fishing line that was tangled around three of her flippers.
Munchkin, a juvenile green sea turtle, was the victim of a shark bite. Munchkin was found at the Lucie Nuclear Power Plant intake canal in November and required a treatment regimen including antibiotics, betadine and lasers.
Tiny Time, another juvenile green sea turtle, ingested toxins near the Hilton Beach Resort on Singer Island last November.
We wish them the best of luck.