Panhandle Freeze Affects Dozens of Endangered Turtles

By: Tiffany Huertas Email
By: Tiffany Huertas Email

Volunteers from all over the panhandle have been arriving at gulf world marine park, bringing in two species of endangered animals, the Green Sea Turtle and the Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtle.

About 80 have come from Port St. Joe, where the temperature in the bay dropped to 34 degrees.

"All these turtles cannot withstand that temperature, so people are finding them and bringing them to us," said Dr. Lydia Staggs, gulf world vet.

Doctor Staggs and her team are giving the turtle’s fluids, nutrients and most importantly, a warmer environment where they can rehabilitate.

Workers are marking the turtle's shells.

The letters identify the location they were found.

The numbers stands for the date they were found.

Gulf world still has some turtles from the hard freeze earlier this month, so they have to take steps to document the circumstances of their rescue.

"We tag every single turtle and we microchip every single turtle and none of them have the same tags,” said Staggs.
Gulf world marine staff, gulf world marine park staff and volunteers are working non-stop to help these turtles.

"It feels great to be helping the turtles, I mean in a situation that they certainly can't help themselves," said Katrina Larson, volunteer.

"I think it’s neat that there's a program that develops so that we can save turtles, when a cold spell comes like this so the predators don't get them," said Doug Buikema, volunteer.

Doctor Staggs hopes to release them once the temperature warms up.

Gulf World is opening its doors to the public tomorrow and continues to accept turtles to their facility.

8195 Front Beach Road Panama City Beach, FL 32407 Station: 850-234-7777 News: 850-230-5221 Fax: 850-233-6647
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