Rehabilitated turtles to be released out to sea on Sunday

SOUTH PADRE ISLAND — Toco, Shredder and Pepe will finally head back home to the Gulf of Mexico after a year of rehabilitation at Sea Turtle Inc. on South Padre Island.

These rescued Atlantic green sea turtles will be released between 5:30 and 7 p.m. Sunday at the Laguna Madre bay area. The public is invited to see these young sea turtles reconnect with their forever home.

Toco was found last year entangled in fishing line with the rod still attached. He lost a flipper due to his entanglement, officials said. When Toco first went into rehabilitation he had fibropapilloma tumors on his body and eyes; they were removed prior to his scheduled release on Sunday.

Sanjuana Zavala, Sea Turtle Inc. marketing and public relations manager, said that despite the lost flipper, Toco is still able to go back into the wild and live out his life.

“A turtle is able to go back into the wild if they have 50 percent of their flippers,” Zavala said. “So they are able to thrive with two flippers.”

Shredder also was found entangled in fishing line between rocks in the Boca Chica jetties. He was brought in to Sea Turtle Inc. around September. He did have to go through surgery but came out in good health.

Pepe, like Toco and Shredder, was found entangled in fishing line in the Isla Blanca jetties around August; he also had a hook embedded in his front armpit area. Fortunately, Pepe was spotted before his injuries became too severe and is now in good condition.

Zavala said the turtles will stay in the Laguna Madre area until they are full adults and go off deeper in the gulf to find mates.

“(The releases) are so popular because the public gets to engage with the turtles and they get to see them go home and that’s a really nice thing,” Zavala said.