A loggerhead sea turtle rescued from a Forked River canal and cared for in South Carolina is heading to California.
The South Carolina Aquarium announced that the sea turtle named Jersey will be flying to California next week to its new home at the Birch Aquarium at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California at San Diego.
The 80-pound sea turtle can never be returned to the wild because its rear flippers are damaged. It was missing part of one flipper and the other was essentially paralyzed.
The loggerhead was found after being captured in the Oyster Creek Nuclear Generating Station’s cooling canal in September 2013, according to a release from the South Carolina Aquarium.
Jersey was transported to the Marine Mammal Stranding Center (MMSC) in Brigantine, where the sea turtle was treated for three weeks but later moved to South Carolina due to an influx of seal strandings and the difficult nature of its medical issues, the release said.
A private pilot, who is a member of MMSC’s board of directors, donated the flight to transport Jersey to South Carolina, where care has included “cold laser therapy to reduce inflammation at the site of spinal curvature, physical therapy on the right rear limb to increase blood flow, and a healthy diet to improve weight and blood work, which was poor when the turtle arrived,” according to the release.
Once in San Diego, the sea turtle will be eventually introduced to its new home, a 50,000-gallon exhibit.
“Jersey is the first sea turtle to be housed at Birch Aquarium and will serve as an ambassador for his/her species, inspiring future generations to care for and protect our ocean,” the release said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.