JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – I thought no one hated cold weather more than I did, but I’m in good company with sea turtles. When water temperatures dip below 50°, sea turtles can become cold-stunned (or shocked) by the frigid temperatures. Environmental groups often comb beaches and bays to collect turtles that are cold-stunned and rehabilitate them for a later healthy release.
18 very lucky sea turtles were released in the panhandle of Florida on Thursday, after a private jet flight from New England through Turtles Fly Too.
The release included largely juvenile Kemp’s Ridley sea turtles that were flown down by Turtles Fly Too private jets late in 2020, as well as a few locally stranded juvenile green sea turtles that were rescued by members of the United States Geological Survey and the Florida Coastal Conservancy. All of the sea turtles being released were in rehabilitation due to cold-stunning.
Due to the large number of stranded turtles in New England, the New England Aquarium and the National Marine Life Center reached out to other members of the stranding network for assistance. Additionally, the green sea turtles were found locally in St. Joseph Bay after temporary cold snaps prompted search and rescue parties along the shore. These turtles are then transported to GWMI to be warmed up and released as soon as possible. All of the turtles have been medically cleared by GWMI veterinary staff and have been cleared for release by Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
Turtles Fly Too coordinated the flights from New England, and all of their pilots (GWMI received turtles from 3 separate flights) generously donated their time for the mission.
Turtle Flier team Chuck Yanke and Julie Tromblay, flew three different missions to Florida and other states to deliver the sea turtles.
This was part of a three-stop mission, where 96 sea turtles were dropped off to five different locations- Sea World Orlando, Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium, the Tampa Bay Aquarium, Clearwater marine Aquarium, and the 18 turtles released Thursday from The Gulf World marine Institute.
Turtles Fly Too transported 536 sea turtles in just two months in the year 2020.