Back to the ocean: Loggerhead Behemoth and juvenile green sea turtle Frozone released at Coquina

Published 4:37 pm Monday, July 31, 2023

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Hundreds of people gathered at the Coquina Beach access in Nags Head the morning of Tuesday, July 25, 2023 to witness the release of Behemoth, a 335-lb. adult male loggerhead, and Frozone, a small juvenile green sea turtle. Both turtles had been brought into care at the North Carolina Aquarium on Roanoke Island (NCARI) by the Network for Endangered Sea Turtles (N.E.S.T.), and treated for their ailments.

Behemoth was found stranded in August of 2022 by a resident in Avon harbor. She contacted the N.E.S.T. hotline and Frank Welles, an active N.E.S.T. coordinator who runs the Hatteras Island end of volunteers, coordinated with local volunteers in the area to haul Behemoth in. At the time, the loggerhead was roughly 270 lbs. Welles shared, “They got the neighborhood together and brought him in … They rigged a pulley system on a pier and were able to get him up and get him on a beach cart, and then get him into a truck and up to STAR.” He added, “He’s the largest we’ve ever seen.”

The STAR (Sea Turtle Assistance and Rehabilitation) Center treats stranded sea turtles of all species and sizes throughout the year. STAR Center manager Amber Hitt said Behemoth was suffering from severe anemia and lethargy when he was brought in. He received iron supplements and injections to help jumpstart the process of building his own blood cells back up. “It was a slow process,” Hitt explained, “but from the get-go, he was a really easy patient to work with.”

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Hitt shared that from the beginning, Behemoth had a “pretty good outlook.” He started eating right away, and once moved to a larger pool at the STAR Center, he was able to swim and dive. “I’ve learned not to second guess nature, truly,” Hitt said. The large loggerhead became a bit of a celebrity NCARI, and it showed as the crowd cheered him on Tuesday morning.

See below for video by Danielle Puleo of Behemoth’s release:

The other sea turtle released that morning was Frozone, who was found stranded in December of 2022 with frostbite. This is not uncommon to see around the Outer Banks. Cold-stunned sea turtles are often found during the colder months of the year. Welles said that N.E.S.T. has groups of volunteers that go out looking for stranded turtles and bring them into the STAR Center for treatment. Frozone was one of these patients, and at just about 7 lbs., he is expected to have a long life ahead of him out in the great blue.

The public is encouraged to track Behemoth alongside adult female Miss Piggy, who was released earlier this year. Behemoth’s most recent “ping” shows him off the coast of Nags Head. Visit to take a look at where these sea turtles are now!