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Mote sets 10 cold-stunned turtles free


All they needed was some TLC and a warm-up.


Ten green sea turtles raced back into the sea Wednesday at a beach in Collier County after being treated for cold-stunning at Mote Marine Laboratory in Sarasota, the organization said in a press release.


These cold-stunned turtles were part of a mass stranding caused by unusually low water temperatures during the past two weeks. The cold affected more than 4,000 turtles statewide.


Many of the turtles have been treated at wildlife rehabilitation facilities throughout the state, including 44 treated so far at Mote.


As water temperatures have risen, hundreds of turtles have been released, with the majority leaving from Florida's east coast, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, which is coordinating statewide efforts to rescue, rehabilitate and release cold-stunned turtles. Gulf-coast facilities are now also releasing turtles.


Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch took the 10 turtles from Mote on Wednesday morning to Vanderbilt Beach in Naples. Turtle Watch volunteers released the animals just before noon with help from the Collier County Natural Resources Department.


A crowd of onlookers watched the turtles crawl seaward. Mote's turtles were released alongside six turtles treated and released by staff and volunteers from the Clinic for Rehabilitation of Wildlife Inc. on Sanibel Island.


Ideally, sea turtles are released in the same general area where they stranded. Most of the 10 turtles from Mote stranded in Sarasota and Manatee counties, but Collier County was the closest location with warm enough water for the turtles. Because rehabilitation facilities are so overloaded, state officials allowed this release.


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