This Turtle Is Crying Because He’s Happy

This enormous (and yet, underweight) leatherback sea turtle got stranded in the right place at the right time. Rescued by IFAW and Mass. Audubon, rehabbed and released by the New England Aquarium, he’s now on the move with a new lease on life. This could be only the third time in history for a successful leatherback sea turtle rescue and release! Here’s how it went down:

New England Aquarium / Via

Dog walkers spotted the turtle in a marshy, muddy area on outer Cape Cod. Because of the tides, the turtle rescue teams at Mass. Audubon and IFAW had to wait until the next morning to rescue the 655-lb turtle.

New England Aquarium / Via

The big guy was transported to the New England Aquarium’s Animal Care Center so the Rescue Team could rehabilitate the turtle, pump it full of medicine and other good stuff. The turtle was about 200-lbs underweight!

New England Aquarium / Via

The rescuers took blood samples and began treatment right away. They worked in near silence so as not to stress the animal out.

New England Aquarium / Via

After a couple days, the turtle was well enough to be released back into the ocean. So with the help of a forklift and a couple dozen rescuers, they hefted the turtle onto a lobster boat and headed a couple miles out to sea. NOTE: Check out the satellite tag on his back!

New England Aquarium / Via

Heave-ho! The turtle scrambled (in slow motion) into the water and dove immediately, which is a good sign. But the turtle is still pretty skinny and unhealthy, the rescue team is guarded about his survival.

New England Aquarium / Via

This video shows release day, you can get an idea of just how honkin’ big this fella is.

New England Aquarium / Via

Remember that satellite tag? Now rescuers can stalk the turtle (and gather rare and crucial information about where these sea faring dinosaurs go). Hopefully he’s munching jellies, getting big and strong so he can remain a proud member of this endangered species.

New England Aquarium / Via

It’s believed this is only the third time in history that one of these endangered behemoths was successfully rescued, rehabilitated and released back into the wild.

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