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Recuperating Sea Turtles at Gulf World
01/09/10 - 06:32 PM
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Allyson Walker - bio
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click for larger image Panama City Beach, Fla:

Gulf World has some new guests this weekend as employees rescue a group of sea turtles from the Port St. Joe area.  Today they’re getting a bit of TLC away from the cold gulf waters.

The veterinarian and trainers are basically warming the turtles back up. The turtles are divided into groups and observed. It’s a big task but they say it’s worth saving stunned turtles.

This dolphin is not used to sharing a holding pen with reptiles…particularly turtles. But for the time being, they have to be roommates. And it’s all because of cold, cold temperatures. Kevin Walsh is the president of Gulf World. He says they’re trying to take good care of their reptilian guests:  “For the most part it’s keep them warm, keep them healthy and make sure everyone’s alright.”

But keeping watch over 500 endangered sea turtles can be difficult. Dr. Lydia Staggs is the veterinarian at Gulf World. She says it’s all about observing closely: “…but once you have a triage system worked out; you look at the turtles, you look them over for any diseases, you just start separating them out.”

They separated the turtles into different tanks according to the day they’re rescued. They also looked out for turtles that are sick or injured.  Those working with the turtles at Gulf World have to keep them separated by days because it’s really important that they warm their body temperatures up slowly.

Dr. Staggs says “…it’s the same thing you do for people with frostbite. They slowly warm them back up.”

When the temperatures drop, they get cold stunned, making them vulnerable to predators. Walsh remembers that “…the turtles cold stunned 2 days ago and because our temperatures remained so low they will continue to come in until it warms up.”

Dr. Staggs says “…so it’s very critical that we take care of them and get them healthy and back into the wild so they can help repopulate that population we’re so worried about.
Gulf World would like to thank Wal-Mart for donating kiddie pools for the sick turtles. They’re in need of old blankets, towels or sheets to help keep the sick turtles warm, so if you have those feel free to drop them off at the front desk at Gulf World.”

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