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242 sea turtles were rescued from cold water last week and released this week into the Gulf of Mexico near Gulf County, Florida.
The turtles were stunned by freezing water in St. Joseph Bay, due to a sudden shift in the weather, which leaves the marine creatures highly susceptible to hypothermia and unable to forage for food.
Dr. Allen Foley, a sea turtle biologist who oversees sea turtle rescues for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, says:
"Sea turtles can tolerate water temperatures down to about 50 degrees, but when it drops below that, they’re in trouble. St. Joseph Bay is a long bay that is open only at the north end, and turtles may become trapped when the water cools quickly."
A mix of local residents, nature preserve volunteers, and researchers form the University of Florida all helped collect the turtles stunned by the cold spell.
The endangered green turtles were taken to Gulf World Marine Park and the Gulfwarium, where they were warmed and cared for until their health was stabilized.
We're glad these volunteers were able to get to these turtles before it was too late! Sea turtles are a beautiful, yet sadly endangered creature that we'd like to keep around.
[Image via AP Images.]