The Arctic blast that has most of the country in a frigid vice grip is also taking its toll on endangered sea turtles. Since Jan. 6, nearly 100 “cold-stunned” sea turtles from Florida to North Carolina have taken shelter at SeaWorld Orlando’s Rescue and Rehabilitation Center. Cold stun is a condition that causes sea turtles to become lethargic and float to the surface due to extreme cold water temperatures.
This influx of turtles gives the park’s Sea Turtle Rescue Program more than 1,000 turtles rescued since its inception in 1980. SeaWorld aquarists are warming up the animals with heat lamps and blankets, and providing warm fluids. Each animal has also received a physical exam to check their internal temperatures and look for infections caused by their cold condition.
Most of the animals are from Florida waters. On Jan. 7, reptilian refugees from North Carolina – a rare Hawksbill baby turtle and five Kemp Ridley turtles – joined the group. They are survivors of a record number of cold-stunned turtles in that region. These animals’ selective eating habits and inability to co-habitat with other turtle species made their trek to Orlando imperative for their survival. SeaWorld, a global leader in turtle rescue, is well-equipped and has the expertise to tend to these special patients’ particular needs.
Once the weather warms up and the animals receive a clean bill of health, the park’s Animal Rescue and Rehabilitation Team will return all of them to Florida waters.