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300 turtles placed into Gulf of Mexico

Three-hundred sea turtles were placed into the Gulf of Mexico.

Posted: Jan. 21, 2018 7:47 PM

It looked like a premiere of a new film at Cape Palms Park in Port Saint Joe, Saturday.

The stars of the event carried one-by-one down the aisle.

Three-hundred sea turtles were placed into the Gulf of Mexico.

The turtles were found cold stunned earlier this month.

When the water in the Saint Joseph Bay gets too cold it can slow down their metabolism and they can die.

"The second largest cold-stunning event we had. In 2010 statewide, we had about 5,000 turtles so this year mostly in the panhandle, it's been more on the order of 12, 13 hundred turtles," said Allen Foley, research scientist, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

Officials with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said about 500 turtles have already been released from rehabilitation.

"It's absolutely incredible how this community rallies around our turtles and especially during cold stun events people pour their hearts out, provided resources, and things that we needed for the event and here they are today to cheer them on as they go home," said Jessica Swindall, volunteer coordinator for Florida Coastal Conservancy.

And cheer them they did.

"We have a condo down the beach and I kept hearing about it. I’ve seen them in the wild, in the bay when we kayak so I’m anxious to see them released today," said Ann Showman, visiting from Ohio.

The water temperature Saturday was about 55 to 60 degrees.

The turtles can become cold-stunned at temperatures 50 degrees and lower.

Officials say the turtles will eventually return to Saint Joe Bay and by that time cold stunning wouldn’t be an issue.

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