Rehabilitated turtles begin new journey 10 miles offshore

Merigo, a Kemp's Ridley turtle, before being released offshore of the Lowcountry (Rebecca Lamb/WCIV)

By Sonya

WADAMALAW ISLAND, SC (WCIV) -- Charlie, Merigo, and Olympian - all three sea turtles spent time in turtle rehab.{} All three were given clean bills of health - All three ready to return to the ocean with the help of John Hill.

"Today we are going just about ten miles because the warm water is still there," said John Hill, owner of the boat, El Tejano.

Once released, flippers were flying, all took off swimming, and there was no looking back.

"Seeing those turtles when they hit the water, they take off at a 100 mph.{} It's like they are home again," said Hill. "It's really exhilarating."

The crew took the journey offshore, so the turtles could be released closer to their natural habitat.

"As the waters start cooling down, sea turtles are highly migratory species. They are cold blooded so they move out of the coastal cooler waters.{} They start migrating toward warmer waters over winter," said Kelly Thorvalson with SC Aquarium Sea Turtle Rescue.

This time of year it's not only recommended but required by DNR, the Department of Natural Resources.

"Part of our new regulations say that after October 1st that we will do boat releases," said Thorvalson.

The boat release was a first for Amber White, who brought Olympian to the Lowcountry from the Baltimore Aquarium.{} Olympian's journey will be tracked -- a satellite tag was attached to the turtles shell.

"It almost looks like the size of a small candy bar, so it doesn't add any extra real weight to him," said Amber White with The National Aquarium in Baltimore. "And what that will do it every time he surfaces to get a breath, it will actually send a signal to a satellite and that satellite will send a signal to our data system that will track his progress and points of where he is going."

Today's release is the end of months of rehab and the beginning of a new journey - 10 miles off the Lowcountry coast.

If you want to track Olympian's trek and check his progress, click here.

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