Frost-stunned sea turtles soar to Florida Keys – CBS Miami

MARATHON (CBSMiami / Florida Keys News Burea) A group of 20 critically endangered juvenile Ridley’s Kemp sea turtles were flown by private plane Friday from Marshfield, Massachusetts to the subtropical Florida Keys to recuperate at Marathon Turtle Hospital after being rescued from the frigid coastal waters of Cape Cod Bay.

The turtles were transported to the Florida Keys Marathon International Airport with the help of Turtles Fly Too, a non-profit group that uses general aviation pilots to donate their aircraft, fuel and of their time to provide emergency transport for rescued sea turtles and other endangered species.

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A critically endangered Kemps Ridley sea turtle comes out of a box as it is unloaded from a plane on Friday, December 10, 2021 in Marathon, Fla. (Bob Care / Florida Keys News Bureau / HO)

The reptiles were recently rescued and initially processed at the New England Aquarium in Boston.

Each of the turtles suffers from “cold dizziness,” a hypothermic reaction that occurs when sea turtles are exposed to cold water for an extended period of time, according to Bette Zirkelbach, director of the turtle hospital.

“These sea turtles are at the Turtle Hospital in the Florida Keys to warm up; their temperatures were extremely low, as were tourists who come to the Keys to warm up, ”Zirkelbach said. “The Kemps Turtle is the most endangered sea turtle in the world, so helping these little ones survive is very important. “

Staff at the Florida Keys-based Turtle Hospital examine a large number of a group of 20 critically endangered Kemps sea turtles that were airlifted to Marathon, Fla. On Friday, December 10, 2021, after being rescued from Cape Cod Bay in a “cold ‘dazed state” earlier this month. (Bob Care / Florida Keys News Bureau / HO)

When the turtles arrived at the hospital, staff carefully identified each with a dedicated number, took their photos, and documented their weight, blood samples, and ability to swim in a small pool to assess their breathing in. water and their swimming force.

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Treatment over the next several months at the turtle hospital should include broad-spectrum antibiotics, fluids, vitamins, and a healthy diet, and the group of turtles should be rehabilitated in water tanks set to 75 degrees Fahrenheit. .

According to Zirkelbach, once the sea turtles are healthy enough to be released into the wild, they will return to the warmer waters off east-central Florida where this species is found, especially at this young stage of life.

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The Turtle Hospital opened in September 1986 as the world’s first state-approved veterinary hospital for sea turtles. The facility has since treated and rehabilitated 2,000 injured sea turtles and helped dozens of stray hatchlings after leaving their nests.

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(© 2021 CBS Local Media. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Florida Keys News Bureau contributed to this report.)

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