UNITED STATES NEWS

13 cold, stunned sea turtles from New England given holiday names as they rehab in Florida

Dec 12, 2023, 1:06 PM | Updated: 3:04 pm

JUNO BEACH, Fla. (AP) — This Rudolph will not be leading his pals Blitzen, Dasher, Dancer, Vixen, Comet and Cupid through the Christmas Eve sky, but maybe he will lead them back out to sea one day.

For now the seven Kemp’s Ridley sea turtles and six of their pals have been given holiday-themed names as they are treated at Loggerhead Marinelife Center in Juno Beach. Other names include Dreidel, Zawadi, Grinch and Elf.

They were were among 52 sea turtles flown to Tampa last week from the New England Aquarium in Massachusetts. They were suffering from a condition known as cold stun from the frigid waters in New England, which make them hypothermic.

“They float at the surface, they can’t eat, they can’t dive and eventually wash up on shore,” said Marika Weber, a vet technician at Loggerhead.

She said the New England Aquarium was overwhelmed with more than 200 sea turtles experiencing cold stun. That’s why 52 were sent to Florida.

In addition to the 13 sent to Juno Beach in Palm Beach County, 16 were taken to Clearwater Marine Aquarium, and the remaining turtles went to Mote Marine Laboratory in Sarasota and The Florida Aquarium in Tampa.

The turtles will continue rehabbing at the aquarium, where guests are welcome to visit and watch their journey, and eventually they will return to their natural habitat.

Florida saw a record number of sea turtle nests this year. Preliminary statistics show more than 133,840 loggerhead turtle nests, breaking the previous mark from n 2016. The same is true for green turtles, with the estimate of at least 76,500 nests well above 2017 levels.

High sea turtle nest numbers also have been reported in South Carolina, Alabama, North Carolina and Georgia, although not all set records like Florida.

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13 cold, stunned sea turtles from New England given holiday names as they rehab in Florida