Panama City Beach-- Several victims of the gulf oil spill are on their way to recovery. Gulf World has been caring for 19 endangered green sea turtles for about two weeks.
"We knew the oil was out there. we knew we were eventually going to receive turtles. So when it did come it was very overwhelming and I hate for this tragic event but it's wonderful to help out," said Gulf World’s Director of Marine Mammals, Secret Holmes.
The local marine park is the first stop on the road to recovery for the reptiles. It's the main turtle cleaning facility for the majority of turtles effected by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
"You know never expected to be cleaning an oiled turtle. There's certain signs we have to look for to make sure the animals not stressed," said Holmes.
Crews use special equipment for the cleaning, then begin the rehab process. It will now be up to the team at SeaWorld in Orlando to get the turtles back to their natural state.
The turtles are being moved from Gulf World because SeaWorld has a larger facility where they can finish up the recovery process before being released back into the wild.
"Gulf World did a great job cleaning them up, de-oiling them and getting them to the point they're at now and now we just have to finish up the rehabilitation and get them out in the wild," said SeaWorld Supervisor, Dan Conklin.
Some of the rehab will only amount to close monitoring. But a few of the turtles have additional injuries such as entanglement of the flipper.
"Sea turtle rehabilitation time frames definitely vary quite a bit. So far we've been able to release some of the oil spill turtles that we previously got. Most of these should be in pretty good shape and time will tell when they're ready," said Conklin.
Those who've been caring for the animals locally Tuesday is a bittersweet day but a relief the turtles are one step closer to being returned to the wild.
"The turtles haven't been here but what, maybe two weeks but you know we've cleaned them and stuff. You're really not supposed to get attached and we know that and we know that they're going to go where they need to be," said Holmes.
Sea turtles can survive out of the water for quite a while, so they should be able to make the 6 hour trip to SeaWorld without any problems.