Thursday, January 21, 2010

Rescued sea turtles released on Vanderbilt Beach

Endangered sea turtles that nearly died in the frigid waters in the Florida panhandle are getting new life right here in Southwest Florida. Hundreds were rescued and Tuesday, more than a dozen were released at Vanderbilt Beach.

The endangered green turtles were given a second chance.

"There hasn't been a cold stunning event like this since 2001. But we've never seen it with such a large amount of turtles," said Maura Kraus, Environmental Specialist with Collier County Parks and Rec.

Scrambling to save as many as possible, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and several other organizations plucked the turtles from frigid waters near the panhandle and brought a truckload to the shores of Southwest Florida.

And Tuesday afternoon, 15 were released into Gulf waters. It was a surprise event for those on Vanderbilt Beach.

"Never seen it and we've got 100 pictures, it's amazing," said Naples resident Nancy Bright.

Kraus explained the turtles won't return to Vanderbilt Beach to nest. Once they're far enough out to sea, they'll head south to warmer waters.

"Oh it's instinct, they know where to go. This is in their natural migration route, at that size, they usually start heading from northern Florida down through the Caribbean," she said.

At this time of year, the water temperatures there are in the mid 80s.

NBC News

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