FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Jan. 31, 2014
APALACHICOLA NERR STAFF AND VOLUNTEERS HELP RESCUE 127 COLD-STUNNED TURTLES
~Endangered sea turtles receive assistance during cold snap~
Apalachicola National Estuarine Research Reserve staff members helped to save more than 150 cold stunned turtles this month.
National Estuarine Research Reserve staff members, along with staff from the University of Florida,
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission staff, and volunteers
patrolled the southwest corner of St. Joe Bay on shore and by boat on Thursday
and Friday to search and rescue cold-stunned sea turtles.
“The Florida Coastal Office
works with partners to assist species that depend on our habitat management to
live and reproduce,” said Kevin Claridge, Director of DEP's Florida Coastal Office. “Sea turtles are so well loved
we do everything we can to rescue them.”
Florida’s shallow bays and estuaries provide important habitats for
threatened and endangered sea turtles. These habitats are home to adults
and juveniles of three species of sea turtle: the loggerhead, green and
rain, sleet, hail, and even a few snowflakes fell on Florida this week, which caused problems for both people and wildlife. For Florida’s sea turtles coming to the surface to breathe during a freeze can be life-threatening. Unlike marine mammals such as dolphins or manatees, sea turtles cannot keep themselves warm.
very low temperatures, less than 50 degrees Fahrenheit, sea turtles may become
lethargic or “stunned.” When they become stunned they have difficulty moving
through water and are pushed to marshy areas or could be found floating on the
surface, which can cause death.
On Thursday and Friday, staff and volunteers rescued 127 cold-stunned turtles. Most were juvenile Green Turtles, but seven were the rare Kemp’s Ridley. The turtles were taken to nearby certified marine turtle
rehabilitation centers. Typically rescued turtles survive the freeze to be
released again to their home bays.
Earlier this month, Reserve staff and volunteers patrolled a similar area during another cold snap during which they rescued 47 turtles. Five of the rescued sea turtles were the rare Kemp's Ridley.
more information on the cold-stunning of Florida’s sea turtles click here.
For more information
about the Apalachicola National Estuarine Research Reserve click here.