Burton 4H Center releases sea turtle on Tybee Island

Published: Sep. 7, 2022 at 3:11 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

TYBEE ISLAND, Ga. (WTOC) - The Burton 4H Center on Tybee Island says they reach more than 8,000 students and adults each year through their environmental education program.

To educate about marine life, they always have one or two sea turtles at the center.

And when that turtle’s time is up at 4H, they head to their natural habitat.

Belle the sea turtle has been with the 4H Center for about five years, helping educate children and adults about the importance of marine life.

Now she’s retired and will live out the rest of her days in the ocean but not without a proper sendoff.

“It is sentimental in the sense that we feel we’ve done our best to prepare Belle for the wild, and so we just hope that she’s gonna go out there and live her role, and live her best life,” said Erine-Fay McNaught, the environmental education coordinator at the Burton 4H Center.

Belle has never actually been in the ocean before. She was a straggler when she hatched meaning she didn’t make it to sea on her own.

The 4H Center takes sea turtles like Belle in for about five years at a time.

“We have certain procedures that we follow with the Department of Natural Resources of Georgia, and by the time they’re about five years old, they’ve reached the appropriate weight and length and size in order to be released into the wild.”

Even though Belle left the 4H Center for the last time, she won’t stop helping educate. Her sendoff to the sea was livestreamed to classrooms around Georgia and she’ll even have a tracker on her so people can keep tabs on her journey.

“You’ll be able to find the link on our Facebook page, so if you do want to kind of see Belle’s journey and where she’s going. We’ve done it in the past but we’re kind of a lot more hopeful because technology’s improved a lot in the last five years.”

Belle might be gone from the 4H Center, but her spot has already been filled by a baby sea turtle named Wylie who’s just about a week old.