Stunned by the cold and facing possible death, the reptiles were collected by state workers in Central Florida and transported via a Disney truck to South Florida.
Students from Nova Southeastern University and workers from Florida’s Department of Environment Protection released the turtles back into the Intracoastal off John U. Lloyd State Park in Dania Beach, where the water was at least 10 degrees warmer than where they had been.
“In my 35 years here this is the first time I’ve seen something of this magnitude,” said Carmelo J. Duesler, a park service specialist with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, who supervised Tuesday’s rescue effort.
One by one, 17 green sea turtles and a nearly 300-pound loggerhead were unloaded from the truck and lugged to the water by graduate students from NSU, which runs the Broward County Sea Turtle Conservation Program.
So hefty were most of the sea turtles, students often had to partner up to carry the nearly 100 to 150 pound cold-blooded critters.
While some turtles simply waddled their way from the shore line into the water, others needed an extra nudge and were taken into the water by volunteers or park rangers like Mary DiaGiacomo, who braved the chilly waters to carry the turtles directly into the sea.
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