Cold Stunned Sea Turtles

Do you ever wonder what marine life is like?  Where exactly do marine animals swim to when we cannot see them with our own eyes?  How far into the ocean can the various critters go? I always ask myself why I find marine life so fascinating.  I believe it is because I find marine life very magical and soothing. The life is so mysterious yet so beautiful. 

 

This past weekend, I had the privilege to attend a sea turtle rescue volunteer session.  The session was a lecture along with some training for people who are interested in volunteering with the marine mammal and sea turtle rescue program.  This training, to be exact, was for anyone that is interested in helping to rescue, rehabilitate and release cold stunned sea turtles. We learned the different types of sea turtles found in New York.  These sea turtles range from threatened to endangered. 

 

If you’re like me when I first heard the term, you might be wondering, “What exactly is cold stunning?”  Cold stunning is a term that is used to describe the reaction that happens when sea turtles are exposed to very cold water temperatures for long periods. Because of this, they end up in the beaches and are found injured or sick.  This is pretty common in the Greater Atlantic Region but a large population are found in Long Island, NY and Cape, Cod MA between late October-December.  

 

Cold stunning is a bad condition for the turtles that slows their movements (which is the result of them ending up washed ashore the beaches). Sea turtles depend on outside sources of warmth (heat) because they are cold blooded reptiles.  They cannot stay warm in the cold and would then need to migrate to warmer regions.  

 

Photo taken by Teresa S.

 

The quickest way to spot a cold stunned sea turtle is by watching for signs or symptoms. They may show symptoms of lethargy, low heart rate, low circulation, shock, pneumonia and (the obvious) death – which is obviously what we try to prevent from happening.  Unfortunately, not all sea turtles are can be saved. But that shouldn’t stop us from trying.  Our goal should never be focused on what may go wrong.  Our goal should always be focused on what we can do to help and we should always strive for great results!  🙂

 

If you live in areas where cold stunned sea turtles are found, you can help in many ways.  One of the best ways is to help by volunteering with your closest marine mammal stranding network or organization.  

 

  • If you happen to find a cold stunned sea turtle, do not attempt to warm the critter.  Quick warming can cause irreversible damage.  

 

  • Do not place the turtle in water.  We want to protect the turtle from freezing. 

 

  • Call your local marine mammal rescue hotline.  Time is a huge factor in proper care and rehabilitation!

 

Since sea turtles are threatened and endangered, I decided to partake in this organization.  It has been in me for a very long time to be a part of wildlife conservation. Being in the veterinary field for over 15 years has not only opened doors for me, it has also allowed me to discover other areas of animal care and has allowed me to be more creative in the ways that I want to help.  This is one of of the many reasons I am sharing this exciting journey with you. 

 

During my visit in Cape Cod, MA, I saw a quote that was framed and mounted on the wall of the house I was staying at. “The scent of the water, the sound of the sea, make me ever so happy just to be me.”   In this case, the sea is helping me to also be happy with the decision I have made.  

 

I cannot wait to continue my journey in animal care.  And I cannot wait to share my experiences with everyone!  Helping animals and helping the planet is a lifetime commitment I have made.  I will do my very best to give everyone the best results.  Please stay tuned! 🙂

 

 

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