Sea turtle rescues continue in Florida waters
Wednesday, January 13, 2010
Media contact: Carli Segelson, 727-896-8626
The unusually long spell of cold weather in Florida
has had a big impact on sea turtles. The Florida Fish and Wildlife
Conservation Commission (FWC) has been working with staff from
county, state and federal agencies as well as numerous volunteers
on a mass rescue effort for sea turtles throughout the state. More
than 2,000 sea turtles have been rescued so far, with 750 of those
taken for triage to Merritt Island National Refuge. As the sea
turtles recover and water temperatures rise, another major effort
will occur as the sea turtles are released.
"The work being done for sea turtles has required a
tremendous collaborative effort with other agencies, businesses and
rehab facilities," said FWC Chairman Rodney Barreto. "We thank
everyone who has provided us with assistance to ensure sea turtles
get through this unprecedented period of cold."
When the water temperature drops, stunned sea
turtles may float listlessly in the water or wash onto shore.
Although these turtles may appear to be dead, they are often still
alive. It is important to report these turtles to the FWC's
Wildlife Alert Hotline at 888-404-FWCC (3922) as soon as
"Sea turtles are protected under the Endangered
Species Act," said Robbin Trindell, FWC sea turtle biologist.
"Besides being illegal to disturb them, trying to rescue the
turtles without expertise could harm the distressed animal
The FWC and its partners have worked together over
the past few days to pick up the turtles and transport them to
places where they can recover from the cold shock. Sea turtle
rehabilitation facilities throughout the state are housing these
animals until they can be released when temperatures warm.
Most of the more than 2,000 sea turtles affected by
the current cold snap in Florida are green turtles, with smaller
numbers of loggerheads, Kemp's Ridley and hawksbill turtles.
Cold-stunned sea turtles have been found stranded in inshore waters
in Brevard, St. Lucie, Martin, Indian River, Monroe, Bay, Gulf,
Pinellas, Sarasota, Manatee and Charlotte counties. FWC biologists
predict the majority of the affected turtles will survive.
"I am extremely proud of everyone who has pulled
together to make sure these very special animals can survive one of
the worst cold spells our state has ever seen," Barreto said. "It
just shows what can be accomplished when folks pull together."
Stranded sea turtles and all other distressed
wildlife may be reported to the FWC Wildlife Alert Hotline at