Gulf World Rehabs and Releases New England Cold Stunned Sea Turtles

January 12, 2016 by SoWal Staff

Ever wonder what it's like to fly private? Well a few lucky sea turtles could fill you in...if you can catch them in the waves. On December 30, Gulf World Marine Institute received 50 endangered Kemps Ridley sea turtles from the New England Aquarium.    

And, yes, the sea turtles were flown by a private plane from New England to Panama City Beach where they were immediately transported to Gulf World Marine Institute. The cost of the flight was partially donated by an anonymous donor and partially by Planesense.

During their time at Gulf World, the turtles spent the week recovering in temperature regulated pools. By January 7, about 25 cold stunned sea turtles were medically cleared and released at St. George Island State Park. The remaining 25 or so cold stunned sea turtles are continuing to be treated for secondary illnesses and will be released soon. 


Pumpkin, a Loggerhead sea turtle, and Sage, a Kemps Ridley sea turtle have also been medically cleared to be released alongside the new first batch of cold stunned New England sea turtles. They stranded individually around Thanksgiving and were both treated for pneumonia.    

When the waters get below 40 degrees in shallow bays and estuaries, sea turtles can become shocked by the frigid temperatures. These animals are then brought in for treatment at local rehabilitation facilities, like the New England Aquarium.

Due to the large amount of stranded turtles, the New England Aquarium reached out to other members of the stranding network. The strategy was to place as many animals as possible to relieve the immediate response area and create capacity for additional incoming turtles. Thankfully, it worked. 


Gulf World Marine Park works with non-profit Gulf World Marine Institute to respond to sick, injured or stranded animals, rehabilitate and release them into the wild and serve as an educational resource to schools throughout our area. The Institute has rescued thousands of sick and debilitated marine animals since 1970.

Learn more about their important work at Follow Gulf World Marine Institute on Facebook for sea animal updates, release events and interesting facts. Also, follow Gulf World Marine Park on Facebook for updates on shows, interactive programs, park concerts and special events. Visit Gulf World online and sign up for the newsletter. 


Endangered sea turtles are washing up on the shores of Cape Cod later this winter than ever before, reflecting another sign of the sharp rise in the temperature of the waters off New England, officials from local conservation groups say...
Read the latest update on sea turtle strandings in New England at


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SoWal Staff

Offering news, features, insider tips & info, photos and video all across the South Walton area.

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