CANAVERAL NATIONAL SEASHORE, Fla. – A plane carrying three dozen rescued and rehabilitated sea turtles landed Friday at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center before a short drive to the ocean where the cold-stunned turtles were released back into the wild.
The Canaveral National Seashore said the 37 Kemp’s ridley turtles were cold-stunned this winter in New England, which kept them from swimming south to warmer water.
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The turtles rehabbed at the New England Aquarium before Turtles Fly Too booked them their flight to the Space Coast.
The Seashore said turtles are normally in warmer ocean this time of the year.
“Releasing them, kind of in their migration pattern and in the warm water that’s here, is giving them their best chance of survival at this point,” Laura Henning said.
The group effort to support the turtles’ journey including NASA, NOAA and Space Florida inspired a retired astronaut to watch Friday’s release.
Shuttle astronaut Nicole Stott spent 103 days in space.
“We sometimes, we need to remind ourselves of our status as earthlings and the thin blue line,” Stott said about the environment. “This is just a really wonderful example of how people do behave like crewmates down here on spaceship Earth.”