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Sea turtle update: Mote treating cold-stunned sea turtles

By Staff | Jan 11, 2010

Cold water temperatures are affecting hundreds of animals statewide, including sea turtles, and several have arrived at Mote Marine Laboratory for treatment. Currently, Mote is treating four cold-stunned sea turtles with another five expected to arrive later Monday evening. Mote began receiving cold-stunned turtles Thursday evening. Four of the initial arrivals had to be euthanized and another seven died over the weekend.
Sea turtles, which are reptiles, become lethargic and their internal organs and bodily functions can be hindered or shut down altogether when water temperatures drop low enough. Mote’s efforts to rehab turtles are largely focused on treating cold-stunned sea turtles that are also afflicted with fibropapilloma (tumors). These growths on turtles’ soft tissues can disable or even kill turtles and are caused by a virus. The tumors are a health problem that is separate and apart from the issues turtles face when they are cold stunned, but it also means the papilloma turtles that are cold stunned are sicker and more difficult to treat. Mote is one of only a few facilities in Florida that treats turtles with these tumors.
More than 1,000 sea turtles statewide have been affected by the cold temperatures, according to the Fish and Wildlife Research Institute of Florida’s Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. Turtles are primarily coming from Mosquito Lagoon on the east coast and St. Joe’s Bay in the Florida Panhandle.
The animals Mote is currently treating are from Lido, Anna Maria Island and Gasparilla with the later arrivals coming from the east coast. All of them are juvenile green sea turtles. Mote’s Sea Turtle Rehabilitation Hospital expects to continue receiving sea turtles throughout the week as part of a multi-agency response effort that is being coordinated by the state. Federal agencies and nonprofit groups like Mote are also involved in the response.

Source: Mote Marine