In Gulf County, Fla., sea turtles can be found in high numbers “cold-stunned” on the beach.
The reptiles are going into a state of inactivity and began washing up when the water temperature dips below 50 degrees.
“We’re experiencing a cold stun event in St. Joseph Bay. When the water temperatures drop too much, our resident population of juvenile turtles, some adults even, are stunned,” Jessica Swindall, volunteer coordinator for Florida Coastal Conservancy, said.
“[The turtles] can’t utilize their muscles at all, so they can’t swim, they can’t lift their heads to breathe,” Swindall explained.
Even some reports on Twitter shows the cold-stunned turtles being recovered in Texas.
“They are cold-blooded animals, so their body temperature is the same temperature as their surroundings so they cannot function and similar to when people are in a very cold environment and they sort of get sleepy. That’s similar to what happens to the turtles and then they wash up on shore or they just float at the surface of the water,” Julie Cavin, a Gulf World Marine Institute senior veterinarian, said.
The last time something like this happened was in 2010 when Gulf World took in nearly 1,800 stunned sea turtles. A representative for Gulf World said that “by the end of the day Thursday, they will have nearly 200 sea turtles at their facility, and expect at least 300 by the end of the week.”