Cold-stunned sea turtles rescued and released

Sea Turtles

Area sea turtles are becoming “cold-stunned” by falling water temperatures putting them into a hypothermic state. Rescued turtles were transported to Gulf World Marine Institute where they were warmed up, treated and released on Tuesday.

Wes Locher
Published: Wednesday, January 15, 2014 at 11:48 AM.

It’s a tough time to be a turtle.

As winter cold snaps lowered the temperature of the Gulf waters, many area sea turtles are becoming “cold-stunned.”

The cold water of the bay, which has reached lows of 37 degrees, impacts the metabolism of the cold-blooded turtles, putting them into a hypothermic state and leaving them unable to get to the surface to breathe.

These turtles are in danger of drowning and become susceptible to other illnesses.

All around Gulf County, the Florida Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, Gulf World Marine Institute (GWMI) and local volunteers spent the last week pulling these turtles out of the water for rehabilitation.

According to GWMI, the body temperature of the turtles coming in for rehab was between 40-50 degrees and some of the animal’s heart rates were as slow as one beat per minute.

Last week alone GWMI received more than 50 turtles, including several Kemp’s Ridley turtles, which are on the critically endangered species list.

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