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Nearly 600 Sea Turtles Released Off Coast Of Boca Raton

Several hundred turtle hatchlings made waves this week as they entered the ocean for the first time.

In a joint effort by the U.S. Coast Guard and Gumbo Limbo Nature Center, 581 sea turtles were released off the coast of Boca Raton on Monday.

Among those were 577 baby sea turtles — 568 loggerheads and nine green sea turtles — and four turtles that had been rehabilitated at Gumbo Limbo, according to the Coast Guard.

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It was the first offshore release of the season.

All the turtles were from southern Palm Beach County and northern Broward County, said Kirt Rusenko, a marine conservationist for Gumbo Limbo Nature Center.

Usually sea turtles swim to the ocean as soon as they hatch, but when they don’t or can’t, Gumbo Limbo cares for them until their next release.

“We try to release them immediately,” said Kristin Child, Gumbo Limbo environmental program coordinator. She explained that when sea turtles are released directly into the ocean, the boat must be 10 to 20 miles offshore so that the turtles have a better chance of avoiding predators.

So far this year, Gumbo Limbo has recorded 25 leatherback nests, 683 loggerhead nests and 254 green turtle nests on Boca Raton Beaches.

Watch WSVN's video of the turtle release, below: