Chilled sea turtles head south for a warm up A sea turtle looks over its enclosure at the NOAA Fisheries Service Sea Turtle Facility in Galveston, Texas. At left, NOAA research fishery biologist Lyndsey Howell places a rescued sea turtle in an enclosure (AP photos)
Chilled sea turtles head south for a warm up
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Marine biologists have flown dozens of endangered sea turtles from Cape Cod, Mass., to Galveston, Texas, for treatment of hypothermia.

The 50 Kemp's ridley sea turtles, a critically endangered species, were shocked by cold temperatures in the waters off New England and were rescued from the beaches of Cape Cod over the past few weeks, the Galveston County Daily News reported.

The group arrived at the Galveston Sea Turtle Facility operated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. There, the turtles will be slowly warmed to a safe temperature and treated for infections, frostbite and other health problems, program manager Ben Higgins said.

"They're not in great shape," he said.

Cold-stunned turtles don't drown, but they do stop moving and eating and eventually, they're washed ashore where they often die. The beaching is an annual event, but more turtles have washed ashore this year than in previous years, Higgins said.

Since Nov. 3, more than 1,000 turtles have been beached in Massachusetts, more than half of them still alive when rescued, which has overwhelmed the resources of the New England Aquarium in Boston, which usually treats the beached turtles.

Besides Galveston, the aquarium has sent turtles to more than a dozen other U.S. rehabilitation centers, including some in Pittsburgh, Washington, and Orlando, Florida.

"We're always here and available and always have space to deal with large sea turtle events," Higgins said.

This is not the first time the NOAA sea turtle center in Galveston has rendered aid to hypothermic turtles. It has also treated turtles brought in from Louisiana after the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

Once the turtles recover at the Galveston center, they will be released offshore next spring, Higgins said.

Previous efforts to protect the Kemp's ridley sea turtle had boosted their population by 12 percent to 17 percent a year. But in 2010, the year of the oil spill disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, the turtle's numbers began to fall precipitously.

Scientists at a recent symposium reported the number of nests made by the endangered sea turtle in Mexico has fallen by 40 percent to 50 percent, with a similar dropoff in Texas.

Critical thinking challenge: Why did the New England Aquarium send the turtles to so many different places?

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COMMENTS (17)
  • TF00Music
    12/12/2014 - 01:02 p.m.

    Well its nice that they even took into consideration that the turtles needed to be warmer. It might be a good idea to keep doing that every winter because that way, the turtles will survive much longer. Kind of...

  • zarid-Koc
    12/13/2014 - 09:34 p.m.

    I'm so glad thAt the sea turtles were transferred to a warmer climate because it breaks my heart to see animals go through neglect and torture.

  • miguelr-Koc
    12/14/2014 - 11:42 p.m.

    The turtles should head west to surviv and to make sure they have good eggs because if they don't they can have distinction eggs as much as they to survive in the ocean.

  • shannons-Koc
    12/15/2014 - 02:04 a.m.

    The reason the sea turtles were taken from cape cod and sent to Texas was for the safety of their health. Sea turtles can't live in cold waters, they will eventually develop hypothermia. During this time of year it is in their best bet to take the sea turtles out of their natural habitat, in order to give them the proper care. Once the turtles health is stable and the weather warms up, they will be sent back to their home where they can swim freely.

  • DD2001green
    12/15/2014 - 08:46 a.m.

    All turtles are different. So they have to put certain turtles in their right habitats. Some live on land. And some live in the ocean or sea.

  • DBenjamin-Cas
    12/15/2014 - 04:07 p.m.

    I think it is cool how people are thinking of the animals and that they are willing to save them. I really appreciate the people who go out of their own time to save these creatures that could be exstinct. Also, how they are willing to take care of them and transport them to a warmer climate so, they wont get frostbite.

  • TaylorSeifert-Ste
    12/15/2014 - 06:18 p.m.

    Hopefully the sea turtle population will pick up again soon. I've always found turtles, especially sea turtles, really cool. I cannot imagine swimming along in the ocean and then running into freezing cold water without a way out.

  • devonm-3
    12/16/2014 - 01:34 a.m.

    Water temperatures are getting too cold and turtles are needing help. The Kemp Ridley Sea turtles are beaching themselves because of cold water temperatures. Many of the turtles have injuries, frostbite, or have developed hypothermia from the cold water. Over 1000 sea turtles have beached themselves because of the cold water. When the water gets cold the sea turtles don't drown, they stop moving and stop eating which can cause them to die or get extremely sick. When it turtles close to death it will use it usually beach itself so it won't drown. This organization finds the beach turtles before they die and saves them bring them back to health and then will set them free. What a Great organization to help these turtles. Cold hypothermia and frostbite seem terrible especially on the water creature being brought back to health and then be able to set free is a beautiful chance in life. This organization is doing a great thing and helping tonzs of turtles.

  • JSteven-Sti
    12/17/2014 - 11:43 a.m.

    M - The main topic is that scientists or people are moving endangered species to a location to get cured from what they have in their system.

    E - The evidence is that these turtles are getting really sick and if all of them die there will be no more of them left.

    A - My opinion is what these people are doing for these endangered turtles is the right thing to do because if they die then there will be no more of that species ever.

    L - The whole process of attempting to cure these turtles of hypothermia is very good i think that they will succeed and these animals will live for alot longer.

  • LAvery-Sti
    12/18/2014 - 09:46 a.m.

    The turtles have very bad things happen to them because of the cold water. This causes them to stop moving and eating and wash ashore and often die. This is sad and scary because the population will drop very fast. That is scary and this will eventually be very very bad.

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