A bale of sea turtles is currently under treatment at a hospital in Marathon, Florida after the staff of an aquarium discovered the lethargic and cold-stunned animals swimming in the Gulf of Mexico.
Seven young green sea turtles were rescued in 57-degree Farenheit (13.8-degree Celsius) water last week by Clearwater Marine Aquarium staff. Other sea turtles in the bale were found dead, according to the Miami Herald.
The sea turtles were placed under the care of the Turtle Hospital in Marathon. Hospital officials say the sea turtles have re-gained their appetite.
"One died through the night Thursday and another one passed away this morning," said Better Zirkelbach, manager of the Turtle Hospital. "Four of the sick turtles are already eating squid in their hospital tanks."
The sea turtles' internal temperatures largely depend on the temperature of their environment. If the water they swim in or the land they stay on is too cold, the sea turtles can turn lethargic, and they can consequently die.
The sick sea turtles can also develop external and internal tumors caused by fibropapillomatosis, a herpes virus specific only to them.
Zirkelbach said if the sea turtles are tumor-free on the inside, the animals would undergo surgeries to remove the external tumors when they are strong enough.
The full recovery of sea turtles could take 12 to 24 months, depending on the severity of the fibropapillomatosis.
The locations in which the turtles will be released shall be determined after the animals recover.
Six years ago, about 170 cold-stunned sea turtles were treated at the Turtle Hospital after water temperatures plummeted to as low as 47 degrees Fahrenheit (8.3 degrees Celsius). In 2015, about 172 sea turtles were admitted to the Turtle Hospital. It was 79 turtles higher than that in 2014 which was about 93 turtles. In 2013, the number was 68, while in 2012, it was 65.
On Friday, Feb. 12, water temperatures at Key West Harbor were 66 degrees Fahrenheit (18.8 degrees Celsius). At Long Key Light, temperatures were at 63 degrees (17.2 degrees Celsius), while at the Molasses Reef in Key Largo, it was at 76 degrees Fahrenheit (24.4 degrees Celsius). This was according to Andy Devanas of the Key West National Weather Service.
Photo : Ian Kennedy | Flickr