A dozen stranded sea turtles died after being stunned by the recent cold snap in the Florida Panhandle, but 29 others were saved, rescuers said today.
The turtles washed up Saturday in St. Joe Bay near Port St. Joe, about 35 miles southeast of Panama City Beach, after air temperatures dipped below freezing.
The survivors -- a loggerhead, one very rare Kemp's ridley and the rest green turtles -- were taken to Gulf World, a marine park here.
One green turtle had eye injuries, probably inflicted by predators.
It was in a separate holding pool from the others, who were doing well, said Cheryl Joyner, director of animal operations at Gulf World.
"When they got here they stuck to the shallow parts, which is bad, but now they're all on the bottom, which is good," Joyner said.
All except the one with the eye injuries will be released once Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officials determine water temperatures are safe in the bay and Gulf of Mexico.
Gulf World workers learned how to treat cold-stunned sea turtles in 2000 when about 400 of the reptiles stranded in the same area.
Joyner said they get disoriented and lethargic in cold water, which makes it hard for them to swim to the surface to breathe.