Turtles off coast of Texas suffer from ‘cold-stunning’ in sudden drop of temperature

Facilities on the sunny Suncoast are more than ready to help if needed.

Turtles off coast of Texas suffer from ‘cold-stunning’ in sudden drop of temperature
The family came upon about two dozen Olive Ridley Sea Turtle Hatchlings. (Source: Van Arkel Family)

SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) - The Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium is the perfect sea turtle retreat.

As ice and snow rage on in Texas, they are reminding everyone of the dangerous effects sudden cold weather has on sea life. Especially sea turtles.

“They’re experiencing a huge drop in temperature and it causes a ‘cold stun’ event,” says Stephannie Kettle at Mote. “They happen when a cold front moves through, and the turtle can’t leave that area fast enough. They get stuck in that cold and they cannot regulate their own body temperature, because they are cold-blooded. They’re unable to escape in time.”

The extreme and sudden drop to colder temperatures quite literally stuns the turtle. Mote says you can tell if a turtle has been stunned because they will appear extremely still, drifting in the water. And while the waters here in Florida do not get cold enough to stun sea turtles on our coast, the aquarium says their facility is the perfect rehab escape for other overburdened marine labs, as experts help the turtles slowly warm back up in our waters.

“We do get other animals that will experience cold stress in Florida like common snook or manatees, things like that,” said Kettle, “We do not really have cold stunned turtles happening in Florida very often. It’s mostly our sea turtle rehab facilities that are receiving cold stuns from other places.”

As of now, Mote says they have not received any turtles from storms in Texas. Their most recent batch of stunned turtles came from Cape Cod in December, all of which can have their progress tracked on the aquarium’s website.

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