DESTIN, Fla. (WFLA) — The final cold-stunned Kemp’s ridley sea turtle from a group of 16 rescued in December 2021 was released on Thursday in North Florida, the Gulfarium C.A.R.E. Center said.

The 16 turtles arrived at the C.A.R.E. Center after being stranded off the coast of New England during a mass cold-stun event, officials said.

Once the sea turtles were doing well, had gained weight and were able to eat without assistance, they were ready to be released by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

Officials said that the first batch of turtles was released in March.

The turtle released Thursday had a prolonged visit due to an osteomyelitis bone infection in its ulna bone within the front left flipper. The team at the C.A.R.E. Center had to perform surgery to remove necrotic tissue and clean the area.

(Gulfarium C.A.R.E. Center)

“We are so happy to finally see turtle 473 head back into the ocean,” states Tabitha Siegfried, Stranding Coordinator for the Gulfarium C.A.R.E. Center. “Kemp’s ridleys are the most endangered species of sea turtle in the world, so anything that we can do to try to conserve this precious species is vital. We are so thankful for everyone involved who has helped us to provide the best possible veterinary care for these turtles that came to us from the Northeastern seaboard of the Atlantic due to a cold-stun event.

If you see a sea turtle in distress, injured, or deceased you should report it to FWC at 888-404-FWCC (3922.)