UPDATE, Jan. 13. 4:30 PM -- Gulf World Marine Institute along with the help of FWC and University of Florida will be releasing approximately 50 of the cold stunned sea turtles at Cape Palms Park on Cape San Blas. The release will take place at11am EST/10am CST tomorrow January 14, 2014.
Before the turtles are released they will be weighed, measured and tagged. Six of these sea turtles are the more endangered Kemp’s Ridley, the remaining of sea turtles are endangered Greens. The temperatures of the bay water during the cold stun reached a low of 37 degrees. The turtles will be released into the warmer waters in the Gulf of Mexico.
We would like invite the media and public to watch this wonderful event with the understanding that we will establish a designated area for media and spectators.
There are also five Green sea turtles that will be transported back to Perdido Key area of Gulf Island National Seashore for release.
There are six sea turtles that will remain in rehabilitation at The Institute due to other medical illness or and injuries. The turtles will be retained for medical treatment until cleared for release.
Gulf World Marine Institute (GWMI) has received approximately 50 endangered sea turtles in the past two days.
These marine turtles have been stranding due to cold temperatures in shallow bay waters.
These marine reptiles are cold blooded; they cannot thermo regulate their body temperature.
As a result, the cold temperatures are placing these animals in a hypothermic state and they become very weak and can cause secondary illnesses.
The body temperature of the animals coming into rehabilitation are between 40-50 degrees and some of the animal’s heart rates are as slow as one beat per minute.
GWMI, FWC, Fish and Wildlife, Gulf Island National Seashore, and University of Florida volunteers are finding and transporting the turtles to GWMI for rehabilitation.
All the animals that we have received so far in rehabilitation are in intensive care. Their body temperatures will be slowly warmed and any necessary medical treatments will be administered as needed.
Rescue teams will continue to search until the water temperatures are warm.
Along with the current cold stun at Cape San Blas the Gulf World team is now responding to a live stranded marine animal.
We will send more details after the team has evaluated the situation.