Eight endangered sea turtles waddled their way back into bay waters Tuesday, a record for the number turtles released in one day by caretakers at the Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research and Preservation.
The turtles were released into Hampton Bays waters at two separate times.
Seven Kemp’s Ridley turtles were released following rehabilitation after they were discovered cold stunned, or hypothermic, this winter.
Kemp’s Ridleys are considered the smallest marine turtle in the world, growing between 24 and 28 inches long and weighing up to 100 pounds, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
The Foundation also released a loggerhead sea turtle named Anchor that had been in rehabilitation since last August after swallowing a fish hook.
He was outfitted with a tracing device, so viewers can track his travels on the foundation’s website.
Loggerheads grow significantly larger than Kem’s Ridleys, to 3 feet in length and weighting up to 250 pounds, according to the NOAA.
According to the Foundation, the 2012-2013 winter season brought and “unprecedented number” of turtles to the Northeast, with more than 100 turtles needing rehabilitation from Virginia to Maine.
A total amount of rescues for the Riverhead Foundation group was not immediately available.
Because sea turtles are cold-blooded reptiles, they depend on external sources of heat to stay warm. During the winter’s cold temperatures, they must migrate to warmer waters.