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More than 1K cold-stunned sea turtles found in Florida bay

By The Associated Press

This article was published January 20, 2018 at 3:12 p.m.

This photo provided by U.S. Geological Survey, sea turtle scientist Margaret Lamont pilots a boat loaded with 52 cold-stunned sea turtles scooped out of St. Josephs Bay in the Florida Panhandle. Lamont said cold-stunned sea turtles began appearing in St. Joseph Bay in early January 2018 as freezing temperatures gripped the region and water temperature in the Gulf of Mexico plummeted. "It’s now over 1,000, maybe up to 1,100," she told the Tampa Bay Times, referencing the number of turtles that had been collected so far from the bay. Usually that number is about 30 or 40. (U.S. Geological Survey via AP)

TAMPA, Fla. — More than 1,000 sea turtles stunned by unusually cold weather have been rescued from waters off Florida's Panhandle this month.

U.S. Geological Survey sea turtle expert Margaret Lamont said cold-stunned sea turtles began appearing in St. Joseph Bay in early January as freezing temperatures gripped the region and water temperature in the Gulf of Mexico plummeted.

"It's now over 1,000, maybe up to 1,100," she told the Tampa Bay Times, referencing the number of turtles that had been collected so far from the bay.

That number is usually 30 or 40.

Lamont says many of the stunned animals are juvenile green turtles, along with some Kemp's ridleys, one hawksbill and a few loggerheads. Kemp's and hawksbills are listed as endangered species.

The reptiles are cold-blooded, which means they slow down when it gets cold. But when temperatures drop below 50 degrees the turtles become unable to swim or lift their heads above the water to breathe, and can drown.

So volunteers pluck the turtles from the water or shore, and send them to Gulf World Marine Park for rehabilitation.

This isn't the first winter that hundreds of the turtles needed help. In 2010-11 about 1,700 of the reptiles were rescued during a long cold snap, and 400 died after washing ashore.

This year, volunteers are heading into the water to try and get to the turtles earlier.

"It's really tough," Lamont told the paper. "And it's really inspiring to see that people are willing to do it to save these animals."


Information from: Tampa Bay Times (St. Petersburg, Fla.), http://www.tampabay.com.

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rtw says... January 20, 2018 at 6:23 p.m.

. . .yeah, global warming.

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