Folks who came to Crooked Island Beach on the last day in May were greeted by an early summer gift.

Folks who came to Crooked Island Beach on the last day in May were greeted by an early summer gift.

Not one, but two turtle releases.

Gulf World was set to release one Green Sea Turtle, but at the last minute was cleared to release another, smaller Green Sea Turtle, cleverly named Pocket Turtle.

Pocket Turtle, found stuck on top of a jetty at the Port St. Joe Marina, was the first to be released.

The smaller green turtle was brought into Gulf World by FWC officers and was thought to have washed up onto the marina’s jetty during recent high wave action.

In good health and medically cleared through a radiograph and a blood work check, the turtle was returned to the Gulf waters at the first availability.

The larger turtle was second to be released and was a much different story.

Aptly named Morla after a turtle character from the movie “The NeverEnding Story,” the larger turtle was found in late February near Shell Island in dire straits.

With sea life growing on her shell and clearly emancipated and lethargic, Morla was rushed to Gulf World for treatment.

At Gulf World, Morla was given a round of antibiotics to treat her severely damaged shell, and had to be tube fed for quite awhile to regain her health.

“It depends on each turtle’s individual situation,” said Lauren Albrittain, Gulf World’s stranding coordinator. “We do get them out as quickly as they are able to. In her case it just took a little longer because she had been sick for quite a long time.”

With the time and effort put in to bring Morla back to health, and the added benefit of being able to release another Green Sea Turtle quickly, Albrittain and the collected public were excited to see the turtles in Gulf waters.

Both turtles reacted accordingly to the release and could be seen shortly after re-surfacing for air.

“Both turtles were very much ready to go when they hit the water, they took off very quickly,” Albrittain said.

While noting that the stranding numbers were pretty standard, Albrittain said that the team at Gulf World has seen a couple of animals stranded to recent high surf levels.

According to the Sea Turtle Conservancy, Green Sea Turtles stay near coastal areas and in protected bays throughout the temperate and tropical waters of the world.

While the species was downgraded from endangered to threatened in 2016, there is only an estimated population of 85,000 to 90,000 nesting females worldwide, with the greatest threat to the species being commercial harvesting.

The Green Sea Turtle is a protected species in the United States.