Stranded sea turtles in Walton County could use your help


WALTON COUNTY Fla. (WMBB) — Although we have come to the end of sea turtle nesting season, there is a possibility turtles might still wash ashore.

It is important to know what to do if that does happen.

There could be a few reasons why a sea turtle washes ashore. Barb Van Stavern, with the South Walton Turtle Watch Group, said they could either be washbacks or stranded.

“If they come back to the beach and they are not there for a reason, say for nesting, which is typically the only reason why they are on the beach,” said Van Stavern. “Then, they are stranded turtles.”

Stranded turtles could either be ill, entangled, or injured and need attention. 

And those who handle sea turtles have to have a specific permit because they are protected.

“If they are live strandings, what we will do is take them to our local rehabilitation center, which is gulf world marine institute in Panama City Beach,” said Van Stavern.

The turtles are taken in for a health assessment.

“We have the capabilities to do a full veterinary exam here on-site, so the turtles get radiographs taken, which are X-rays, they get a body condition analysis from our veterinarians,” said Lauren Albrittain, the Gulf World Marine Institute Stranding Coordinator. “We can do the blood work here on site.” 

And from there, Albrittain and her staff determine a treatment plan. She said in the winter; they expect to find more stranded turtles due to colder weather.

You can do your part to help. When you leave the beach for the day, make sure to take everything with you and flatten those areas you were lying on. And if you do happen to find a sea turtle washed ashore, make sure to use resources available to assist those turtles.

Van Stavern said there are still two turtle nests left in the Miramar and Blue Mountain Beach areas.

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