Rehabilitated sea turtles return to ocean years after rescue

SAN DIEGO - SeaWorld San Diego returned three rescued olive ridley sea turtles to the ocean Monday.

The turtles -- named Solstice, Lightning and Tucker -- were rescued from cold waters near Oregon and flown to the park for rehabilitation over the past few years.

Solstice, a female, was rescued in December 2014, cared for at the Oregon Coast Aquarium and taken to San Diego two months later. Lightning, also female, was brought into the Oregon facility in December 2015 and flown to San Diego the following March.

Tucker, a male, was taken in by the Seaside Aquarium in Oregon in December 2015, transferred to an aquarium in Seattle, then airlifted to SeaWorld in April last year.

The cold shock suffered by the turtles impacted their buoyancy, which was restored during their time at the theme park. They were placed in the ocean about 15 miles off the San Diego coast, in a current that should carry them to warmer water near Mexico, according to SeaWorld.

Olive ridley turtles are the smallest sea turtles in the Pacific Ocean, with a maximum weight of 100 pounds. The federal endangered species list has them as threatened.