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FWC and partners rescue cold-stunned sea turtles

By Staff | Dec 28, 2010

Recent cold temperatures in Florida left many cold-stunned sea turtles close to death, floating listlessly in the water. Working with staff from county, state and federal agencies as well as volunteers, Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) biologists helped to coordinate the rescue of hundreds of sea turtles this week.

Rescuers pulled more than 250 stunned turtles from the frigid waters. The majority of the rescues took place in the Cape Canaveral area of Brevard County. However, rescues also took place in Indian River, Gulf and Pinellas counties.

Most of the sea turtles affected by the recent cold weather in Florida are green turtles, with smaller numbers of loggerheads and Kemp’s ridleys, as well as one hawksbill turtle. FWC biologists predict the majority of the affected turtles will survive.

The FWC and its partners worked together to pick up the turtles and transport them to places where they can recover from the cold shock. Sea turtle rehabilitation facilities throughout the state are housing these animals until they can be released when temperatures warm.

When the water temperature drops, stunned sea turtles may float listlessly in the water or wash onto shore. Although these turtles may appear to be dead, they are often still alive. However, in this listless condition, they are especially vulnerable to further impacts from the weather and may become prey to scavengers.

With temperatures increasing, biologists are hopeful that, for now, turtles will no longer be in need of rescue.

Stranded sea turtles and all other distressed wildlife should be reported to the FWC Wildlife Alert Hotline at 888-404-FWCC (3922).

For additional information on fish and wildlife research, visit research.MyFWC.com.