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 22, 2019
Earth & The Environment
DEC 22, 2019
Australia on fire
Australia is in a national state of emergency as fires ravage cities and rural areas around the country. One map circulating the media from the Government ...
JAN 04, 2020
Earth & The Environment
JAN 04, 2020
What will be the future of the North Atlantic Current?
A study published recently in Scientific Reports predicts the fate of the North Atlantic Current. The current is responsible for moving warm water from the...
JAN 12, 2020
Plants & Animals
JAN 12, 2020
Diego the Giant Tortoise Returning to Wild After Saving His Species
One would witness a plethora of exotic animals upon visiting the renowned Galápagos Islands, one of which might be the Galápagos giant tortoi...
JAN 15, 2020
Earth & The Environment
JAN 15, 2020
2019 Was The Second Warmest Year on Record
Independent analyses from NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) have confirmed that 2019 was the second warmest year on recor...
FEB 06, 2020
Earth & The Environment
FEB 06, 2020
Did climate push early humans out of Africa?
A recent study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences details the most recent revelations about our planet’s complex h...
FEB 21, 2020
Earth & The Environment
FEB 21, 2020
Should we pump iron into the oceans?
Iron is one of the limiting factors for biological production in oceans around the world. Phytoplankton depend on iron for their nutrients and growth,...
Loading Comments...