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Baby Sea Turtle Nicknamed “Jeff Probst” Survives Hurricane, Gets 2nd Chance At Life!

baby sea turtle

As a Florida native, born and raised, I can tell you that hurricanes throw all sorts of things up onto the beach. When a concerned citizen was strolling the sands of Flagler Beach after hurricane Franklin and Idalia, they came across a rare… but not entirely unusual, sight. An exhausted baby sea turtle.  

baby sea turtle stranded by hurricane

Concerned about the tired little turtle, and knowing that sea turtles are a protected species, the citizen reached out to the Flagler Beach Police Department for help. The citizen noted in a Facebook comment, “He was looking very weak and struggling. Destini and I knew he deserved a second chance. Thank you to the officer and the turtle patrol for all they do. Hope to see you get released soon little buddie!” 

Thankfully Flagler Beach PD is well versed in this type of situation, and knew exactly who to call! 

In a Facebook post, Flagler Beach PD details that “We’ve nicknamed him “Jeff Probst”  … (get it?) and he’s been turned over to our friend Lori Ottlein and the wonderful team at the Flagler Turtle Patrol!” 

Flagler Beach Turtle Patrol has clearance from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission to assist wild sea turtle populations in a number of ways. They mark nests, monitor newly hatched turtles as they make their way to the ocean, and respond to any calls about turtles in distress. 

If the turtle is strong enough to make their way to the ocean, the turtle patrol helps them along their way. If they aren’t, or they are injured in any way, they transport them to the turtle hospital at the Marine Science Center in Ponce Inlet, Florida. 

baby sea turtle after hurricane idalia

When hurricane season and baby sea turtle season cross paths at just the wrong time, the results can mean extremely exhausted baby sea turtles blown back to the shore. This is likely what occurred with Jeff Probst (the turtle). 

Baby sea turtles expend lots of energy digging up out of the sand and making their way to the ocean. Once they make it to the water, they have to swim past breaking waves and reach the floating beds of seaweed offshore. Once in the seaweed, they can rest and rebuild some of the strength drained during this momentous journey. 

However, a strong storm can push the seaweed, the turtles, or both, back up onto the beaches. If the baby turtles haven’t built up enough strength, they can’t make the arduous journey back to the ocean a second time, and are left on the beach and vulnerable to predators. 

rescued baby sea turtle

This is far from the first time a storm has blown sea turtles back up on the beach. In fact, after hurricane Ian in 2022, over 200 baby sea turtles washed back to beaches! Volunteers collected these little turtles and transported them to Brevard Zoo, who rehabilitated them until they were strong enough for release

If you find yourself in a similar situation with an animal you think may be in distress, you should follow the lead of this concerned citizen and contact a wildlife rehabilitator or the local authorities for guidance. Sometimes wildlife needs our assistance, and the actions of a single concerned citizen can mean the difference between life and death for that animal! 

You can find the source of this story’s featured image here.

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