Ten additional cold-stunned Kemp's ridley sea turtles have been placed under the care of the veterinary team at Mississippi Aquarium. The turtles were flown into Gulfport Monday by the non-profit group Turtles Fly Too. The New England Aquarium sent the turtles to Gulfport. Monday's acquisition brings more than 50 Kemp's ridleys under the care of Mississippi Aquarium's staff.
The new turtles will receive physicals and blood work and will likely be treated with antibiotics for pneumonia. Once healthy, the Aquarium will release the turtles into the Mississippi Sound. Kemp's ridley turtles are an endangered species and are native to the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico.
"Mississippi Aquarium is very fortunate to have the capacity and the extraordinary veterinary expertise to care for these turtles," Mississippi Aquarium CEO and President Kurt Allen said. "With this transport, the Aquarium is now overseeing the veterinary care of over 50 critically endangered sea turtles. We are fortunate that the Mississippi Gulf Coast is in their home range, and the goal of rehabilitation is to nurse them back to health and release them into the Gulf as soon as possible."
According to NOAA, cold-stunning is when "sea turtles become very weak and inactive from exposure to cold temperatures. It generally occurs when water temperatures fall below 50˚F (10˚C) where sea turtles are present. Cold-stunned turtles become lethargic and eventually cannot swim, causing them to float at the surface. Wind and tides wash them ashore. If temperatures remain low or turtles are not rescued, they can develop secondary health problems or die. Hundreds or even thousands of sea turtles can be affected by cold-stunning events."
Mississippi Aquarium received several cold-stunned Kemp's ridley turtles in December 2020. The turtles were flown to Gulfport by Turtles Fly Too, a non-profit organization that flies injured turtles to rehabilitation locations. Delaune and her 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.
If you would like to support our sea turtle conservation efforts, please go to msaquarium.org.