FRANKLIN CO., Fla. (WTXL) - More than two dozen sea turtles were released at Saint George Island State Park Thursday morning. The turtles were medically cleared after they arrived in Florida from New England on December 30, 2015.
"Today we are out here to release 25 endangered Kemp sea turtles," said Stephanie Southern, Education Coordinator for Gulf World Marine Institute. "They came down here as cold stun sea turtles so up in new England they are experiencing some cold weather so those sea turtles are going into hypothermic shock. Gulf World as well as some other facilities were on hand and they flew about 50 of them down here, and today 25 of them were ready to go back so that's what we're doing."
Cody Peters, Assistant Park Manager at the St. George Island State Park, says they took one turtle at a time and carried them knee deep out to the water to release them, because the surf was rough.
"That's why we're in this line of work, when we can show people what the wildlife is and turn them out," explains Peters. "Then it's great, just for people to come out and experience what the natural Florida has to offer."
The first turtle released was a large loggerhead named 'Pumpkin'.
"Pumpkin came to us with pneumonia, and pumpkin was found around here, the port St. Joe area," says Southern. "Pumpkin was found on Thanksgiving, so him and some of the other turtles that were found all got named after Thanksgiving pies. Chuckles, so that's how he got his name. When we were going to be releasing the kemps, we knew it was going to be time for him to go well."