MARATHON, Fla. — Forty endangered sea turtles found "cold-stunned" in the water off Cape Cod, Mass., are now warming up in the Florida Keys.
CBS Miami reports the Kemp’s ridley sea turtles were rescued and brought to Florida Keys Marathon Airport on Saturday. The Turtle Hospital is taking care of the animals until they're ready to be released.
"Hundreds of turtles are washing up on the beach," Turtle Hospital manager Bette Zirkelbach told the Florida Keys News Bureau. "More than the capacity that the aquariums up there can take care of, so they are being flown to the Turtle Hospital to warm up and have care for these critical animals."
A group of private pilots called "Turtles Fly Too" donated planes, fuel and time to make the rescue mission possible. The turtles were transported in boxes with room to roam and to breathe.
Zirkelbach said some of the sea turtles will need more testing to determine whether they have pneumonia or other infections. She said they could be at the hospital anywhere from 30 days to a year.
"Once we warm them up, they’re going to go to another part of Florida to be returned to the ocean and that’s our goal with these 40 turtles," Zirkelbach said.
Cold stunning happens when sea turtles are exposed to cold water for an extended period of time. They're cold blooded, so they cannot regulate their body temperature. It can cause the turtles to stop doing most activities, including eating and swimming. Additionally, Kemp’s ridley turtles are the most endangered type of sea turtles. They are protected under federal and Florida law.
- Coldest air of the season arrives in Tampa Bay this week
- 'People let their guard down': Health expert expresses concern over possible post-holiday travel rise in COVID-19 cases
- Fauci: US may see 'surge upon surge' of virus in weeks ahead
- Multi-county police chase ends with arrests on Interstate 4
- Florida hunters have duck stolen by massive gator
- 12 Christmas light displays to see this year around Tampa Bay
►Breaking news and weather alerts: Get the free 10 Tampa Bay app
►Stay In the Know! Sign up now for the Brightside Blend Newsletter