The Gulfarium C.A.R.E. Center in Northwest Florida has taken in twelve Kemp’s ridley sea turtles that were recently stranded off the coast of New England during a recent mass cold-stun event. The sea turtles made the trip down from Massachusetts to Florida on Monday, December 14th, 2020.

The C.A.R.E. Center would like to thank Turtles Fly Too and their pilots Chuck Yanke and Julie Tromblay for transporting the sea turtles to the local area by private plane, where they were then collected and immediately taken to the C.A.R.E. Center for rehabilitation.

Cold stunning occurs when a sea turtle is exposed to cold water for an extended period of time. This exposure causes their heartrate to decrease, resulting in the turtle becoming lethargic and often unable to eat. Unfortunately, cold stunning events, where large numbers of sea turtles become stranded, are not unusual in Northern areas during the months of November through February as water temperatures drop below 50 degrees.

Upon arrival at the C.A.R.E. Center, the veterinary team assessed each individual turtle, took x-rays and determined the best plan of action to care for these endangered animals. These sea turtles will stay at the C.A.R.E. Center for rehabilitation until they are deemed releasable by Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC). The recovery process can take up to a few months for cold-stunned turtles, but once their health has improved they will be released into the Gulf of Mexico.

“We are so grateful to be able to help these sea turtles from the Northeastern seaboard of the Atlantic due to a cold-stun event they recently experienced ,” explains Terra Throgmmorton, Gulfarium’s Medical and Stranding Coordinator. “Kemp’s ridleys are the most endangered species of sea turtle in the world, so anything that we can do to try to conserve this precious species is vital. We are so thankful for everyone involved who has helped us to provide the best possible veterinary care for these turtles.”