Cold Stunned Sea Turtles Pour Into Rescue Centers

A hawksbill sea turtle, (c) M. Vinciguerra

Usually I greatly enjoy my job working outside as an environmental educator.  But when Florida’s mild winters turn to record-breaking cold, I have to admit I dont love braving the cold.  At least I can bundle up, unlike most of the wildlife in the state.  Particularly some of my favorite Florida year-round residents: five species of threatened and endangered sea turtles.

Over the last week many of the state’s marine wildlife rescue centers have taken in hundreds of patients stressed out by the dropping temperatures.  The Clearwater Marine Aquarium was holding 59 cold-stunned sea turtles as of yesterday, SeaWorld in Orlando reported well over 100 turtles, the Marine Science Center in Volusia County is holding 66 rescues, and the Sea Turtle Preservation Society based out of Melbourne on the east coast sent out an all-call to its volunteers looking for assistance with driving in stunned turtles as well as hoping for donations of towels to help treat the turtles.   CMA is asking for the same outpouring of generosity from the community to help ease the burden of caring for so many rescued patients.

I realize many people are currently rounding up donations for the relief of Haiti due to the recent earthquake – and I am certainly not attempting to detract from the seriousness of that event – but if you are at all able to donate to CMA or STPS please consider doing so at this time.  Smaller non-profit institutions like these need all the assistance they can possibly get when their reserves are strained by the large caseloads they are currently carrying.