Gulf World Marine Institute takes in several sick sea turtles

PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. (WMBB) — Over a dozen green sea turtles will be calling the Gulf World Marine Institute home for the next few weeks.

The institute received 19 green sea turtles in need of rehabilitation earlier this week. The turtles were transferred from several Northeast Florida rehab facilities.

“They were actually reaching their capacity and struggling to keep up, so they have been transferring turtles to facilities throughout the state that could take them,” Gulf World Marine Institute Stranding Coordinator Lauren Albrittian said.

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All of the turtles are suffering from a variety of medical conditions. 

“These turtles are all coming in what we call a debilitated state, which means they just have lots of symptoms: a poor body condition, lethargic, or low energy. They’re covered in epi biota, which is barnacles, algae, worms, corals, things like that. In general, they just need a little bit more recuperation time,” Albrittian said.

Volunteers work around the clock to give the turtles the critical care they need.

“Turtles can get treatments every one or three days depending on what they’re needing. They get fed every day. We make sure they have clean water every day. We can do very easy water changes to get new water straight from the Gulf here for these turtles. Then they just have the monitoring that we are able to do every day to make sure that if anything changes with their condition, we can bring it to the veterinary staff’s attention and then address it,” Albrittian said.

It can take sea turtles weeks or months to heal depending on their condition, but Albrittian said the goal is to nurse them back to health and release them into the wild.

“These guys are very good at surviving, so it’s very common that we’re able to send all of our ones that do make it through rehab back out into their natural habitat.”

Albrittian said the community can help with their turtle-saving efforts. 

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“Rehabilitating these sea turtles does cost money, and we are a nonprofit organization…We are going to be putting these turtles on the website soon for symbolic adoption. Everybody loves that. You can adopt the turtle and you get a photo certificate, all that. We also accept regular donations. We also have an Amazon wishlist. There’s lots of ways you can support the work that we do.”

If you encounter a sick or injured marine animal, call the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

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