ORLANDO, Fla. – Federal biologists released 37 loggerhead sea turtles into the Indian River Lagoon Monday morning, about a mile south of Sebastian Inlet, as reported by Local 6 partner Florida Today.
The turtles had been used in an experiment in Panama City, where biologists video record the turtles swimming through fishing nets to learn how best to design escape hatches in the nets that allow turtles to slip free.
Shrimp nets are one of the main causes of sea turtle deaths. The turtles drown in the nets when they can't escape and reach the surface for air.
These 3-year-old turtles weigh 20 pounds to 30 pounds and were gathered as hatchlings in the Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge. The turtles were raised in Galveston, Texas, and then taken to NOAA's Panama City facility for the net experiments.
Loggerhead sea turtles are federally protected as a threatened species.