PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. (WMBB) — After a long journey on a private jet, 22 sea turtles made their arrival at Gulf World Marine Institute, all the way from Buzzards Bay, Massachusetts.
Lauren Albrittain, Stranding Coordinator of Gulf World Marine Institute said the condition of being cold-stunned is comparable to human getting hypothermia.
“What usually happens is that they get very slow-moving and cold, they float up, and they get pushed to the shore,” Albrittain said. “They actually have teams up there of different organizations that every season patrol the beaches every day in every section looking for these turtles.”
The turtles had a long journey to get to their new temporary home. They traveled from Buzzards Bay, Massachusetts to Panama City Beach inside Del Monte and Chiquita banana boxes.
After finally making it to Gulf World, they underwent an assessment that included checking their heart rate and taking their temperature.
“These patients have already had an initial one at the National Marine Life Center, but we’re giving them a second one now to make sure that they went through the flight okay,” Albrittain said. “Then basically we’ll do whatever we need to do to get them back up to health.”
Some might need antibiotics which Albrittain said will increase the amount of time they need to be rehabilitated.
“If they are on antibiotics, typically they have to go through a complete round of antibiotics which can be anywhere from 30 to 45 days,” Albrittain said. “You have to be off of them for 30 days as well to make sure there is a quarantine period.”
After the turtles have been fully rehabilitated, Albrittain said they release them back into the Gulf of Mexico.
“The reason you don’t have to fly any of these kiddos back up to the New England area is because these are a Gulf of Mexico species so they would all end up back here anyway,” Albrittain said.
Albrittain said the process is very rewarding but it’s hard not to grow a little attached to the turtles.
“If we have patients that we’ve grown particularly fond of, it can be a little sad,” Albrittain said. “But everybody agrees that while it is a little sad sometimes, it is what we’re here for…it’s more on the positive.”
Albrittain wants residents to know what to do if they spot a stranded sea turtle.
“Please don’t push it back, that’s actually not the right thing to do,” Albrittain said. “We want you to help us so just go ahead and give that star pound FWC a call. Or the actual number is 1-888-404-3922.”