Florida Aquarium Helps Stranded Sea Turtles

The Florida Aquarium received three critically endangered loggerhead sea turtles recently. The three turtles were found stranded on Cape Cod after being severely affected by the cold-water temperatures in New England, experiencing what is called a “cold-stun.” The turtles were then transported to the New England Aquarium’s sea turtle hospital for triage.

The New England Aquarium (NEAQ) facility in Quincy, MA, then transported these three cold-stunned loggerhead sea turtles by private jet to Tampa, FL. The Florida Aquarium’s Animal Response Team, supported by Florida Blue, picked up the sea turtles from the airport and transported them to the Aquarium’s Sea Turtle Rehabilitation Center in Apollo Beach.

Upon arrival at the rehabilitation center, the sea turtles were transported to the hospital suite for examination. One of the Aquarium’s veterinarians, Dr. Lindsey Waxman, checked the turtle’s vitals, including heart rate, respiratory rate, and temperature. All three turtles are in stable condition and are resting comfortably at the Center. The turtles will receive supportive care and treatments for the duration of their rehabilitation. Rehabilitation time for most turtles is two to four months, but some turtles are treated for up to 10 months or longer.

The Florida Aquarium is part of a network of dozens of marine animal rescue facilities along the Gulf and East Coasts that help in responding to this unique, large-scale sea turtle stranding event.

Each November and December, hundreds of endangered and threatened sea turtles strand on Cape Cod. Cold stunning is when sea turtles are exposed to cold ocean water and air temperatures for an extended period, rendering them immobile since they are cold-blooded. Cold-stunned turtles are unable to swim and can develop symptoms, including decreased heart rate, low blood circulation, and pneumonia. If they do not receive treatment, cold-stunned sea turtles can be susceptible to drowning, infections, predation, or boat strikes. The sea turtles will remain at the Center until they are fully rehabilitated and will hopefully be returned to the sea.

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