Even the hardest-shelled among us could use a sunny vacation about now: 40 endangered sea turtles have been relocated from Massachusetts to Florida after suffering a hypothermic reaction called “cold stunning.”
The imperiled turtles had to be transported to warmer waters due to prolonged exposure to temperatures reaching no more than 50 degrees Fahrenheit, causing decreased heart rate and circulation, and thus impairing their ability to eat and swim. “Cold stunning” can lead to pneumonia, frostbite, other illnesses and death.
The bale of young Kemp’s ridley turtles were found stranded off the New England coast, and later flown from Cape Code to Marathon, Florida, in the Florida Keys, on Saturday for treatment.
A group of private pilots donated a plane, fuel and their time to help see the scarce species to safety — dubbing their effort “Turtles Fly Too,” CBS Miami reported.
“Hundreds of turtles are washing up on the beach,” said the manager of Turtle Hospital, Bette Zirkelbach, in a statement. “More than the capacity that the aquariums up there can take care of, so they are being flown to the Turtle Hospital to warm up and have care for these critical animals.”
Kemp’s ridley turtles can grow to around 2 feet in length and weigh about 100 pounds, making them the smallest species of sea turtle, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Zirkelbach estimates the turtles may require habilitation for 30 days or more, and hope they can eventually be returned to the ocean in Florida waters.
“We’re hoping, flippers crossed,” Zirkelbach said, “that they all go back to sea.”