On Tuesday evening (11/25/14), Gumbo Limbo (GLNC) received eleven cold stunned Kemp’s ridley sea turtles from Massachusetts. The term “cold stunning” refers to the hypothermic reaction that occurs when sea turtles are exposed to prolonged cold water temperatures. Initial symptoms include a decreased heart rate, decreased circulation, and lethargy, followed by shock, pneumonia, and possibly death.
In any given year, between 50 and 200 sea turtles cold stun from late October through December in the Northeast Region. This year already has seen a record number of cold stunned turtles with close to 700 sea turtles, so far, in the Northeast. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has coordinated with several Florida sea turtle rehabilitation facilities to help house and care for as many sea turtles as possible until they are warmed up and healthy enough to be released.
Kemp’s ridley sea turtles are the smallest and most endangered of the sea turtle species. Kemp’s ridley sea turtles are also the most common cold stunned species in the Northeast Region. Loggerhead and green sea turtles are also often affected by cold stunning. These species are all found to have similar reactions to the cold water temperatures.
At GLNC, staff from the Sea Turtle Rehabilitation Facility (STRF) will treat each of the eleven sea turtles as they would any other patient. Vital signs will be monitored, fluids provided for hydration, x-rays conducted to look for signs of illness or injury, a proper diet will be provided, and medications administered if necessary.
Visitors to GLNC may stop by the STRF during regular hours and get a look at this rare species. Please note we will be closed Thanksgiving Day. The suggested donation of $5 per person supports all aspects of the Center, including sea turtle rehabilitation.