A crowd gathered against the cyclone fence, cameras poised and kids propped on shoulders as a hulking military plane swooped into this coastal airport on Thursday to carry two rare sea turtles to the next step in their recovery.
After the giant bird landed, a crowd of local residents, wildlife specialists and military personnel spilled out onto the tarmac. The curious clambered onboard as Oregon Coast Aquarium staff, who have been caring for the creatures, cuddled a stuffed green sea turtle in a final farewell.
The olive ridley and green sea turtles, which washed ashore about two months ago, were loaded onto the cargo carrier and flown to San Diego where they will receive special care at SeaWorld’s turtle rehabilitation center.
It’s not often that a C-130 Hercules lands in Newport. In fact, the last time wildlife professionals loaded up a military carrier built to hold 22 tons was when they shipped Keiko to Iceland in 1998.
“These turtles are pretty rare around here,” said Jim Burke, director of animal husbandry at the aquarium. “It’s been a great learning experience.”
Read full story HERE.