Rescuing Cold-Stunned Sea Turtles: What You Need to Know

on Feb 25, 2023
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Sea turtles are fascinating creatures that have existed for over 100 million years. Unfortunately, many sea turtle species are endangered due to habitat loss, pollution, hunting, and accidental entanglement in fishing gear. Another threat to sea turtles is cold stunning, a condition that occurs when turtles are exposed to cold water temperatures for extended periods.

How to Rescue a Cold-Stunned Sea Turtle

When sea turtles are cold-stunned, their bodies slow down and become weak and lethargic. They can wash up on the beach or be found floating in the water, unable to swim or move. If you encounter a cold-stunned sea turtle, acting quickly to save its life is crucial.

Here are the steps to follow:

1. Call for Help

The first thing to do is to call for help. Contact the nearest marine wildlife rescue organization or sea turtle hospital. These organizations have the expertise and resources to treat and rehabilitate cold-stunned sea turtles.

2. Keep the Turtle Warm

While waiting for help to arrive, keep the turtle warm. Move it to a dry, sheltered area and cover it with a blanket or towel. Don't place the turtle in the water or expose it to direct sunlight or heat sources such as lamps, heaters, or hot water bottles.

3. Do Not Touch the Turtle

Sea turtles are protected by law, and touching, disturbing, or harming them is illegal. Cold-stunned turtles are especially vulnerable; touching them can cause further stress and harm. Keep a safe distance from the turtle and wait for trained professionals to arrive.

4. Provide Information

When you call for help, provide as much information as possible. This includes the turtle's location, size, and condition, as well as any visible injuries or abnormalities. This information can help the rescue team prepare and bring the necessary equipment and supplies.

Remember that time is of the essence when it comes to rescuing cold-stunned sea turtles. The faster you act, the higher the chances of saving the turtle's life. By following these steps and contacting the nearest rescue organization, you can help give these magnificent creatures a second chance.

Sea Turtle Rescue Organizations

United States:

Here are some organizations that rescue and rehabilitate cold-stunned sea turtles in different regions of the United States:

  1. New England Aquarium, Boston, Massachusetts: The New England Aquarium's Animal Care Center is one of the country's largest sea turtle rehabilitation facilities. They provide care for cold-stunned sea turtles and other marine animals.

  2. National Aquarium, Baltimore, Maryland: The National Aquarium's Animal Rescue team responds to stranded sea turtles and other marine animals in the mid-Atlantic region. They work in partnership with local organizations to provide medical care and rehabilitation.

  3. Sea Turtle Inc., South Padre Island, Texas: Sea Turtle Inc. is a nonprofit organization that rescues and rehabilitates sea turtles in the Gulf of Mexico. They also conduct research and education programs to promote sea turtle conservation.

  4. Loggerhead Marinelife Center, Juno Beach, Florida: The Loggerhead Marinelife Center is a sea turtle hospital and research facility that rescues, rehabilitates, and releases injured and sick sea turtles. They also provide education and outreach programs to raise awareness about sea turtle conservation.

  5. Marine Mammal and Sea Turtle Stranding and Salvage Network, California: The Marine Mammal and Sea Turtle Stranding and Salvage Network is a statewide response network coordinating the rescue and rehabilitation of stranded marine animals, including sea turtles. They have rescue centers and volunteers throughout California.

Click here for a comprehensive, global directory of organizations dedicated to rehabilitating and rescuing sea turtles.