NOTICE: In response to the current COVID-19 Pandemic, STR’s Board of Directors has placed Sea Turtle Recovery under an “Emergency Operations” declaration. During this time, patient care is our priority.


UPDATE: We are working toward returning to normal operations. Fundraising events are being scheduled. Please check the Events page for updates. We are also  opening a limited number of Internship opportunities. Volunteer opportunities and Education programs are still suspended and are not accepting invitations or applications at this time.


This is a difficult time for all of us. STR is hoping that you may be able to consider a donation to help during this hard time. We thank you for your continued support. Please stay well!

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Sea Turtle Recovery Releases It's First Rehabilitated Patient

Posted by admin on February 28, 2017

Sea Turtle Recovery located at Essex County Turtle Back Zoo Successfully Released Its First Rehabilitated Sea Turtle Back into the Ocean

On February 27, 2017 the Sea Turtle Recovery, based at Essex County Turtle Back Zoo in West Orange, NJ, released its first rehabilitated sea turtle into the warm waters off of Florida’s coast. This release was a collaborative effort of several facilities throughout the Northeast Region and was lead by the National Aquarium in Baltimore, MD. Sea Turtle Recovery, The National Marine Life Center, Virginia Aquarium, and the Pittsburg Zoo all were part of the release effort.  These groups collaborated to transport a total of twenty seven rehabilitated sea turtles for release at Anastasia State Park in St. Augustine, Fla.

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“This was an exciting day for Sea Turtle Recovery.  Our nonprofit started as a dream, and now we are making a difference for endangered sea turtles.  This is just the beginning, and we are humbled, excited and proud.  Working with the Northeast Region has helped us to learn and grow, and it is wonderful to share our first release with them,” stated Sea Turtle Recovery’s Co-Executive Officer Brandi Biehl.

The Sea Turtle Recovery opened its doors at Essex County Turtle Back Zoo in December.  The Prudential Sea Turtle Recovery Center is a state-of- the- art facility capable of rehabilitation and surgery for sea turtles while giving the public a view of the rehabilitation tanks and less critical patients.

 “Essex County is proud to have a partnership with Sea Turtle Recovery , and, with the release of the first endangered sea turtle from Turtle Back Zoo, it is exciting to see our conservation efforts make an impact,” said Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo, Jr.

Sea Turtle Recovery’s first rehabilitated sea turtle, having been given the rehabilitation name of Anna Carmella, is an 8 lb Kemp’s ridley sea turtle that stranded during a cold stunning event in Cape Cod Bay.  Anna Carmella was one of over 400 cold-stunned sea turtles that washed ashore in Massachusetts during the 2016 winter season.   The Sea Turtle Recovery offered to help with the influx of stranded sea turtles in Massachusetts which eventually lead to the transport of ten Kemp’s ridley sea turtles including Anna Carmella on December 21st.

“Cold Stunning occurs when sea turtles fail to migrate to warmer waters as the ocean temperature begins to drop.  Instead, they remain in areas such as the Cape Cod Bay and wash ashore stunned.  Pneumonia, malnutrition, and even death are some of the results of being cold stunned,” stated Co- Executive Officer Bill Deerr. “Our first release is the combined effort of Sea Turtle Recovery, support from U.S Fish and Wildlife Service and NOAA, Essex County Turtle Back Zoo’s willingness to give our nonprofit a facility, and all of the volunteers and donors that contributed to Anna Carmella’s care.”

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The Journey for Anna Carmella began on Sunday as Sea Turtle Recovery drove her to the Baltimore Aquarium for an overnight stay in their rehabilitation tank.  Leaving early Monday morning, the twenty seven sea turtles arrived at the release site at 4:30pm with the sun just beginning to set. Anna Carmella took in the surroundings as she waded into the Atlantic Ocean and swam away fully recovered.  “This sea turtle’s life is extremely important, and now the fight to save Kemp’s ridley’s from extinction just got a New Jersey boost! There are no words to describe Sea Turtle Recovery’s joy.” Biehl commented. 


More about the Sea Turtle Recovery, their efforts, and how to donate to the sea turtles’ care can be found by visiting More information about the Turtle Back Zoo including hours and directions is available at