PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. (WMBB)–Seventeen cold-stunned sea turtles will now call the Gulf World Marine Institute their home. The sea turtles traveled to Panama City Beach all the way from the New England Aquarium in Massachusetts.
Each year during late October to mid-November, sea turtles in northern states can become cold stunned. This means they become shocked because of the cold weather. This happens because their body temperatures closely match the temperature of their environment.
Often, the cold-stunned turtles are admitted to the New England Aquarium for medical treatment, but they can’t house them all. That’s where Gulf World steps in.
“They cannot fit all the turtles in their facility because they do require long term rehabilitation and so what they’ve started is partnerships with other rehab organizations along the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico coast,” said Lauren Albrittain, Gulf World’s Stranding Coordinator.
Albrittain says stranded sea life can often be found by the St. Joe Bay during the winter. If you come across any, it’s important you don’t lead them back to the Gulf but instead call for help.
“If you do encounter one, go ahead and dial #FWC on your cell phone, that’s the easiest thing to tell everybody because that’ll take you straight to the Florida Fish and Wildlife hotline and they will transfer you to the appropriate local responders,” said Albrittain.
The seventeen sea turtles will undergo rehabilitation for the next couple of months. The cold weather can leave them unable to move their limbs for an extended period of time.