Gulf World Marine Institute is releasing 18 sea turtles into the Gulf of Mexico TOMORROW Thursday, January
14, 2021 at 12:00 pm noon Eastern Time at Cape Palms Park, on Cape San Blas, Port St. Joe, Gulf County,
Florida. The release will include 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 a phenomenon called “cold-stunning”. During cold snaps, sea
turtles can become cold-stunned (or shocked) by the frigid temperatures in shallows bays and estuaries below
50 degrees Fahrenheit. 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.
While the public is not invited to attend the event due to COVID precautions, we invite members of the media.
Due to the short notice, we will also be taking photo and video documentation ourselves, so please reach out
to Lauren if you are interested in footage but are unable to attend in person. Please remember that all sea
turtle release events are subject to change in the event of poor weather conditions.
Thank you to Turtles Fly Too for coordinating the flights from New England, and all of their pilots (GWMI
received turtles from 3 separate flights) for generously donating their time for this mission. Thank you also to
staff and volunteers of the United States Geological Survey and the Florida Coastal Conservancy for
coordinating search and rescue operations along St. Joseph Bay after the recent cold snaps. We would also like
to thank Mass Audubon Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary, NOAA Fisheries, New England Aquarium, Florida Fish
and Wildlife Conservation Commission, the Forgotten Coast Sea Turtle Center, the Northern Gulf Turtle and
Coastal Research Group, the Indian Pass Sea Turtle Patrol, GWMI staff and all volunteers that are working
together to make this possible.