Clearwater Marine Aquarium Manager of Sea Turtle Rehabilitation Danielle O'Neil takes one last look at this sea turtle released Thursday morning off Honeymoon Island State Park.
CLEARWATER - Clearwater Marine Aquarium staff released 46 sea turtles back into the wild Thursday morning at Honeymoon Island State Park.
The release included 45 Green sea turtles and one Hawksbill.
For the past two weeks, the turtles have been at CMA recovering from cold stun, which was the result of the recent record-low temperatures. The waters have warmed up and the turtles are once again ready to live in their natural environments.
CMA staff and volunteers treated about 105 sea turtles suffering from cold stun.
Cold stun happens when the temperature of the water drops below 50 degrees for a sustained amount of time, and their metabolic rate drops below maintenance levels, and they begin to stun, the CMA said. As a result, they stop swimming and eating.
Nineteen rehabilitated turtles were released last week in Juno Beach. CMA will have two more rounds of sea turtle releases within the next couple of weeks.
According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, statewide, 4,500 sea turtles were impacted by "cold stun." The majority of them have been released back into the wild.
Since 2002, Clearwater Marine Aquarium has released 146 sea turtles.
Last year alone, CMA rescued 79 sea turtles, rehabilitated 27 and released 18 of them. CMA is currently home to 13 turtles, including four different species (Kemp's Ridley, Loggerhead, Green and Hawksbill). The Kemp's Ridley is the most endangered of all sea turtles.
CMA is a Florida non-profit 501(c)(3) organization, dedicated to marine life rescue, rehabilitation and release, and environmental education.
CMA oversees sea turtle nesting on Pinellas County beaches, locating and protecting Loggerhead nests, and ensuring the hatchlings make their way into the ocean. Last year, 137 nests were located and protected. Sea turtle nesting season runs each year from May through October.