JAN 04, 2017 12:33 PM PST

15 Kemp's ridley sea turtles recover from cold shock

Fifteen critically endangered Kemp's ridley sea turtles are warming up at the Florida Keys-based Turtle Hospital after being rescued from cold waters off Cape Cod, Massachusetts.  The turtles initially were treated by New England Aquarium staff in Boston. 

Hospital staff tend to the cold-shocked turtles. Photo: The Turtle Hospital

The juvenile turtles have pneumonia as a result of "cold stunning" but are expected to make a full recovery, officials said Tuesday. "Cold stunning" is a hypothermic reaction that occurs when sea turtles are exposed to cold water for a prolonged time.

"They came in when the water was warm, and they didn't go out with the Gulf Stream," Turtle Hospital manager Bette Zirkelbach said of that warmer ocean current. "The cold weather moved in and the turtles didn't get out in time." The turtles, which range from two to 10 pounds each, were flown Monday night to the Florida Keys from Norwood, Massachusetts. They were transported in towel-lined boxes en route to the Turtle Hospital. A group of private pilots donated the turtles’ flight to Florida.

"They're going to be treated at the Turtle Hospital with broad spectrum antibiotics," Zirkelbach said. "We're going to give them vitamins, a healthy diet, and we're going to keep them in warm water, 75 degrees. That will warm them up and let those medications do their work." The rehabilitation is expected to take up to two months.The reptiles are likely to be released in waters off Florida after they recover.

Kemp's ridley sea turtles are the most endangered of all turtle species, Zirkelbach said. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says on its website that the species is most common along the Gulf coasts of Mexico and of such U.S. states as Texas, Louisiana and Florida. It also is found along the Atlantic coast in the Southeast and as far north as New England during the summer and fall.

Sources: ABC News, Boston CBS Local, Turtle Hospital

About the Author
  • Kathryn is a curious world-traveller interested in the intersection between nature, culture, history, and people. She has worked for environmental education non-profits and is a Spanish/English interpreter.
You May Also Like
FEB 24, 2021
Plants & Animals
Texas Freeze Caused Historic Sea Turtle Stranding Event
FEB 24, 2021
Texas Freeze Caused Historic Sea Turtle Stranding Event
In addition to the millions of humans who suffered through Texas' historic freeze last week, local wildlife also exp ...
MAR 04, 2021
Immunology
Climate Change Tightens Its Grip on Hay Fever Sufferers
MAR 04, 2021
Climate Change Tightens Its Grip on Hay Fever Sufferers
There’s bad news for pollen allergy sufferers: New research has shown that climate change is making hay fever seas ...
MAR 24, 2021
Earth & The Environment
Setting "zero" at zero, once and for all
MAR 24, 2021
Setting "zero" at zero, once and for all
New research published in the Journal of Geodesy establishes a novel approach to measuring elevation – one th ...
MAR 29, 2021
Earth & The Environment
Just discovered, already endangered
MAR 29, 2021
Just discovered, already endangered
Research published recently in Zootaxa details the finding of two species of screech owls that live in the Amazon and At ...
APR 20, 2021
Earth & The Environment
To predict wildfires, look to the hills
APR 20, 2021
To predict wildfires, look to the hills
A study published recently in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Earth Surface reports on a new technique that ca ...
APR 22, 2021
Technology
Using Human Hair to Improve Solar Technology?
APR 22, 2021
Using Human Hair to Improve Solar Technology?
Solar power usage, used frequently in the United States to generate electricity, has been steadily rising since 1984. Ne ...
Loading Comments...