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More cold-affected turtles arrive at Mote

By Staff | Jan 12, 2010

Cold water temperatures are affecting hundreds of animals statewide, including sea turtles, and several additional animals have arrived at Mote Marine Laboratory for treatment.
Mote is now treating 13 cold-stunned sea turtles with others likely to arrive throughout the week. Mote began receiving cold-stunned turtles Thursday evening. Four of the initial arrivals had to be euthanized and another seven died over the weekend.
Mote is currently treating: Five green turtles from the Titusville area and another six green turtles from Sarasota Bay. A 12th green turtle came in from Charlotte Harbor. The 13th turtle is a loggerhead from Sarasota Bay. All of the turtles are now in water, with the water temperature slowly being raised. The turtles are receiving supportive care and are being offered food.
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 include a focus 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. Currently three of the turtles Mote is treating are also affected by 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. 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