Endangered sea turtles recovering in Florida after cold wave

Miami, Dec 12 (EFE).- Eight sea turtles from the world’s most endangered species are receiving treatment at a hospital for those animals located at Zoo Miami after they were incapacitated by a cold wave in Massachusetts.

The animals, from the species Lepidochelys kempiiy, the smallest of the marine turtles and commonly known as Kemp’s ridley sea turtles, were transferred to Florida on board an airplane owned by the Turtles Fly Too organization, landing last Friday at Miami’s Executive Airport.

Ron Magill, the Miami zoo’s public relations chief, said in a statement that as winter approaches, the sea turtles along the US East Coast experience temperatures that can harm their health and often become “cold-stunned” and incapacitated.

Without human intervention, many of the turtles will not survive, he added.

The Miami zoo’s Sea Turtle Hospital opened last year and this is the first time that it had treated any patients from outside Florida, the state that – due to its warm temperatures – usually begins receiving more of these animals when cold waves start to hit the northern US.

The eight turtles arrived in Miami from the National Marine Life Center in Buzzard’s Bay, Massachusetts.

None of the animals is yet an adult and all of them weigh between three and seven pounds.

Upon arriving at the airport, the turtles were taken to the zoo and individually examined by veterinarians, then placed in recovery tanks at the Sea Turtle Hospital.

Magill said that the veterinary team will continue providing care to the turtles in the hope that they will fully recover and eventually will be able to be released once again into their normal environment.

Cold temperatures affect the turtles by causing dehydration, emaciation, swollen eyes and skin abrasions.

The Animal Health Team at the Sea Turtle Hospital will be able to better assess the condition of the turtles in the coming days after they acclimatize themselves to their new surroundings.

Turtles of this species rarely grow larger than two feet long or weigh more than 100 pounds. They mainly eat crabs and other types of seafood.

Their habitat ranges from the Gulf of Mexico up the eastern US coast to Nova Scotia.

EFE ar/arm/bp

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