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Hundreds fill Coastal Bend beaches to witness sea turtle releases

Dr. Donna Shaver with Sea Turtle Science and Recovery said days like today lay the foundation for the future of the species.

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — It's sea turtle release season at the Padre Island National Seashore. Dr. Donna Shaver with Sea Turtle Science and Recovery said days like today lay the foundation for the future of the species. 

"With the release goes our hope of increasing the numbers of these turtles and more and more coming back for future generations, for the public to get more chances to see this magnificent species," Dr. Shaver said.

Large crowds attended releases on Padre Island and in Port Aransas, Saturday morning. For island locals, like Ellen Henry, who works at the Texas Sealife Center and is witnessing her seventh turtle release, she has her favorite moments. 

"I think that little amount of time where it's like, they're not moving. Everyone's kind of like, well, what are they going to do? I think that's probably my favorite time," Henry shared. "You kind of just know, just wait for it, it's coming, and then they start walking and everyone starts cheering. It's an amazing thing."

Beachgoers weren't the only ones moved by the release. "To see my staff and my volunteers get to see the turtles, some of them for the first time, and to see the gleam in their eye and feel my feeling when I saw these turtles for the first time," Dr. Shaver added.

For other spectators, like Jeff Vogelpohl, he got to spend his 17th wedding anniversary watching Amos Rehabilitation Keep release 11 sea turtles that made a full recovery in their care. 

"This is an awesome wedding present," Vogelpohl said. "We did a little bit of swimming, we sat down here, and then we were able to see all the cool turtles." 

Dr. Shaver told 3NEWS the sea turtles began hatching at the National Seashore throughout the night thanks to three mothers that laid eggs. Her volunteers helped by watching them around the clock to make sure they reached the water safely. She said timing is key so they have enough strength to overcome the rough surf. 

For more information about the organizations involved with this event, visit the links below.

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