Local turtle volunteers assist in cold-stunned turtle rescue at St. Joe Bay

Green turtles recovering in the warm pools at Gulf World. Photo courtesy seaturtlewatch.com

South Walton Turtle Watch group helps out at Gulf World

South Walton Turtle Watch was called to action this weekend to assist Gulf World staff and other area volunteers with a turtle rescue at St. Joe Bay. More than 650 cold-stunned turtles were rescued and brought to Gulf World in Panama City.

Sharon Maxwell led the team of 10 South Walton Turtle Watch volunteers assisting with documenting individual statistics, and caring for the sicker of the group.

Sad news, as more than 150 turtles have expired. The good news is because of the volunteer efforts, many of the survivors will be released once the waters warm up.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Florida Wildlife Conservation Commission, Apalachicola National Estuarine Research Reserve, University of Florida, Gulf World staff and volunteers have rescued the turtles from the frigid temperatures of St. Joe Bay Jan. 7, 8 and 9. Mostly green turtles, there were a few endangered Kemp’s Ridley rescued as well.

The shallow waters of St. Joe Bay is the major factor as to why the turtles become stunned so easily according to Secret Holmes, Marine Stranding Coordinator of Gulf World Marine Park. Most of the turtles will recover quickly. When the water temperatures become more stable, they will be released.  If you would like to volunteer, call Secret at 850-258-6968. For related story, Click here

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