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Cold weather in the Big Bend could be dangerous for sea turtles

Cold water can cause turtles to be cold stunned. Gulf Specimen Marine Lab is rescuing turtles impacted
Posted at 4:50 PM, Jan 22, 2024
and last updated 2024-01-22 16:50:09-05
  • We’ve been experiencing cold weather here in the Big Bend, and this could be dangerous for sea turtles here.
  • Cold waters could cause turtles to become cold stunned
  • Watch the video to see how Gulf Specimen Marine Lab is keeping them safe.

“If they were left out in the cold and left on the beaches, they would basically freeze to death.”

That’s what Hunter Eichler with the Gulf Specimen Marine Labtold me could happen to sea turtles from the cold water temperatures we’re experiencing here in North Florida.

“They just can’t regulate their temperatures.”

This happens because turtles are cold blooded and their temperature is dependent on their environment.

The water here can get cold enough to cold stun sea turtles which means the water becomes too cold for them to survive.

Eichler tells me they’re rescuing turtles showing signs of cold stunning and caring for them until they’re back to normal.

“When the temperature in the water gets around 53° the turtles can start cold stunning so they just get too cold to function and they can’t swim very well. They can’t breathe very well, so they just start washing up on the shore.”

The Gulf Specimen Marine Lab has been going to the shores in Wakulla County each morning to search for any cold-stunned sea turtles.

They haven’t found any cold-stunned turtles yet this year, but in 2018 they rescued 76 sea turtles.

“If you ever see a sea turtle on the beach floating and you think it’s dead and you don’t think you need to call anyone, please call us.”

If you find a sea turtle you think may be experiencing cold stunning, contact the Gulf Specimen Marine Lab.