Increase of Turtle Rescues Memorial Day Weekend

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PANAMA CITY BEACH - Memorial Day weekend is one of the busiest boating weekend of the year. That can make things dangerous for sea life. Experts at Gulf World Marine Institute are caring for 4 endangered sea turtles rescued over a 48 hour period.

The first 2 Kemp's Ridley turtles showed up Thursday. Then 3 more surfaced Saturday. All were suffering from injuries caused by hooks and fishing lines.

"The past couple of days they've been coming in from Bay and Walton County and they've been coming in due to fishing lines wrapped around their limbs and hooks in their esophagus," said Stephanie Nagle with Gulf World.

One of the 5 turtles also had a severe injury cause by a boat propeller. Gulf World staff had to euthanize it.

They're also worried about another turtle that lost his front left fin. "The fishing line was very severe and it cut into his flipper, so we'll probably have to attend to that injury a little more than the others," said Nagle.

Gulf World averages less than 10 Kemp's Ridley Sea Turtles every year. So 5 in one weekend is unusual.

Nagle said, "It may have a correlation with Memorial Day weekend because there are a lot more people on the water, higher boat traffic."

In each of these cases, Nagle says people did the right thing, they called for help. "The best thing to do whenever you see a sea turtle with anything wrapped around them or they swallowed a foreign object to call local officials and contact us," Nagle explains.

Gulf World officials hope to have the turtles rehabilitated shortly, and can release them back into the gulf.