Turtles being transferred to Gulf World for rehabilitation
PORT ST. JOE – Rescuers are working hard saving hundreds of cold-stunned turtles in St. Joe Bay. 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 more than 200 turtles from the frigid temperatures of St. Joe Bay Jan. 7 and 8. Mostly green turtles, there has also been a few endangered Kemp’s Ridley rescued as well.
Stunned by the recent freezing temperatures, approximately 100 turtles were rescued Jan. 7 and with another 100+ on Jan. 8. The workers and volunteers expect to work through the weekend as they anticipate more rescues.
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.
“This happens every couple of years,” Holmes stated.
The St. Joseph Bay State Buffer Preserve is the central headquarters/staging area for the operations, providing lodging, equipment, and manpower. They are all then being transferred to Gulf World in Panama City for rehabilitation.
If you are interested in volunteering, contact Gulf World Marine Park, Secret Holmes, Marine Stranding Coordinator, (850) 258-6968.