Sea Turtle's Release Filmed for New Nature Program; 'Ocean Mysteries' Will Air Show on Sea Turtles Later This Season

By Dickson, Terry | The Florida Times Union, September 1, 2011 | Go to article overview

Sea Turtle's Release Filmed for New Nature Program; 'Ocean Mysteries' Will Air Show on Sea Turtles Later This Season


Dickson, Terry, The Florida Times Union


Byline: Terry Dickson

JEKYLL ISLAND Murphy, a loggerhead sea turtle raised in captivity, disappeared into the Atlantic's murky waters Wednesday. But there will be a chance to see him again.

A camera caught it all as Jeff Corwin and Georgia Aquarium staff members released Murphy as the ending segment of an upcoming episode of ABC's new series, "Ocean Mysteries with Jeff Corwin." Starting Saturday, it will air weekly after Good Morning America.

Before Murphy swam - reluctantly, it seemed - into the ocean, Jessyca McElhannon of the Georgia Aquarium scratched "Welcome Back, Murphy" into the sand. It was actually Murphy's first swim: He was picked up as a straggling hatchling from a Jekyll Island nest about 10 years ago and spent his first two years as Shelby at the Tidelands Nature Center and the 4H Center on Jekyll, said Dawn Zenkert, coordinator of Tidelands.

"He came to the aquarium in 2009," said Mackenzie Whalen, a spokeswoman for the Georgia Aquarium. "He has been an ambassador for his species, greeting our millions of visitors."

But most recently the aquarium staff has been teaching the formerly hand-fed Murphy to be a wild sea turtle, she said.

Veterinarian Terry Norton, director of the Georgia Sea Turtle Center, said the job before the release is always to have the turtles spend more time away from humans and to feed them live jellyfish and crabs so they can get accustomed to catching their own food in the open ocean.

"Now he'll get a chance to see how he does in the wild," Norton said.

For his part, Murphy didn't dive right in. When Corwin and Georgia Aquarium staff members placed him on the beach, he just lay there for awhile as the waves splashed up in front of him. With a camera pointed at him, Corwin talked with Norton and Georgia Aquarium's senior aquarist Heather Dziedzic. Finally he and Dziedzic picked Murphy up, carried him into shallow water and he swam away, first parallel to the beach in shallow water with the antenna from a transmitter poking above the surface and then into deeper water. …

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