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When turtles fly: Cold-stunned animals nursed in Mississippi

Cold-Stunned Sea Turtles
Posted at 9:36 AM, Dec 07, 2021

GULFPORT, Miss. (AP) — The Mississippi Aquarium is treating 40 endangered sea turtles that stranded in Massachusetts when the water cooled down so quickly they couldn't swim away.

Vice president of veterinary services Alexa Delaune said Monday that the Kemp's ridley turtles all are pretty small and most have symptoms of pneumonia.

Mississippi Aquarium spokesman Jeff Clark says the New England Aquarium ran out of room and asked if Mississippi could take them.

Kemp's ridley turtles are the smallest and most endangered of the species found in U.S. waters.

They were flown to Gulfport on Friday by a volunteer pilot group called Turtles Fly Too.

According to the Aquarium, the turtles arrived on Friday, December 3, from the New England Aquarium. The veterinary staff at Mississippi Aquarium is treating the turtles in its offsite research center.

"All 40 of the Kemp's ridleys are pretty small; they range from about one kg to out to a few kilograms," said Mississippi Aquarium Vice President of Veterinary Services Alexa Delaune. "The majority have evidence of pneumonia. The turtles will be treated with antibiotics for pneumonia. We did a complete physical exam and bloodwork on each turtle we received on Friday. So far, all of the turtles are stable but, their status can change day to day, especially in the first few days. We are very grateful to Turtles Fly Too that volunteered time and planes to fly the turtles here. It's an honor to help our colleagues care for these sea turtles, and we are excited to get them healthy so that our community can watch them be released back into the Gulf."

Mississippi Aquarium says they also received several cold-stunned Kemp's ridley turtles in December 2020. Staff released the last of the first batch of Kemp's ridley turtles into the Mississippi Sound in July.

The rehabilitation effort for the threatened Kemp's ridleys is part of Mississippi Aquarium's broader sea turtle conservation program.

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