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
DEC 17, 2018
Plants & Animals
DEC 17, 2018
New Aquatic Salamander Species Described in New Study
A new aquatic salamander species has been discovered, and researchers are almost entirely sure it matches the description of a previously-unknown animal th...
DEC 29, 2018
Microbiology
DEC 29, 2018
A Microbe's Membrane Protects It From Extreme Environments
There are microscopic organisms called archaea living in some of Earth's most intense environments....
JAN 04, 2019
Earth & The Environment
JAN 04, 2019
It's time to pull in the big data
Scientists from the Florida Museum of National History have banded together to urge other scientists to take advantage of open-access big data to solve lon...
FEB 04, 2019
Earth & The Environment
FEB 04, 2019
Rethinking how we predict earthquakes
Last September Indonesia’s Palu region was struck by a 7.5 magnitude earthquake that resulted in over 2,000 deaths. In the aftereffects of the quake,...
FEB 13, 2019
Earth & The Environment
FEB 13, 2019
New technology turns plastic waste into clean fuel
Polyolefin is a type of polymer that composes the largest group of thermoplastics, the two most important and common types of which are polyethylene and po...
FEB 18, 2019
Earth & The Environment
FEB 18, 2019
Household chores linked to air pollution
New research suggests that household tasks such as cooking and cleaning have significant impact on air pollution, generating particulate chemicals that lea...
Loading Comments...