11 cold-stunned sea turtles returned to Atlantic after rehabilitation in Florida

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CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — Workers from Clearwater Marine Aquarium in Florida have released 11 cold-stunned Kemp’s ridley sea turtles back into the Atlantic Ocean.

The turtles were released earlier this week near Cape Canaveral after two months of rehabilitation, the aquarium said in a news release Thursday. They were part of a group of 16 turtles that arrived at the Tampa Bay area facility from the New England Aquarium in Massachusetts in December. The other five turtles are still receiving care.

“We are excited to share that 11 of our Kemp’s ridley patients are fully recovered and have been cleared for release by us, as well as Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission,” Dr. Shelly Marquardt said in a statement. “All 11 were ready to go back home to the east coast of Florida into a warmer part of the Atlantic Ocean.”

Hundreds of sea turtles suffer hypothermia and severe debilitation every year in the colder waters of Cape Cod Bay in Massachusetts, as the cold-blooded reptiles are unable to regulate their body temperatures.

Rehabilitation facilities in the Northeast frequently collaborate with other facilities to treat cold-stunned turtles. A total of 52 sea turtles were flown this past winter to Florida, where they were treated by Clearwater Marine Aquarium, as well as Mote Marine Laboratory, Florida Aquarium and Loggerhead Marine Life Center.

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