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Fla. cold snap proves tough on sea turtles

Jan. 9, 2010 at 4:39 PM

BOCA RATON, Fla., Jan. 9 (UPI) -- Florida's cold snap is proving dangerous for sea turtles, animal health experts say.

With temperatures plunging this week, officials of the Gumbo Limbo Nature Center's sea turtle rehabilitation center told Saturday's South Florida Sun-Sentinel they have been receiving far more than the occasional distressed animal, with 34 patients as of late Friday.

"When the temperature drops very quickly like this -- turtles, being cold blooded -- it makes them very lethargic, and once their temperature drops below a certain temperature, then they end up dying," Gumbo Limbo development director Mike Zewe told the newspaper from the rehab center's offices in Boca Raton, Fla.

Also reporting an influx of "cold-stunned" juvenile green sea turtles was Loggerhead Marinelife Center in Juno Beach, Fla., which reported housing eight of the reptiles. The center's communications manager, Tom Longo, told the Sun-Sentinel 300 turtles were being treated at rehab centers across Florida.

Experts said they generally treat the cold-stressed turtles by placing them in warm water for about two weeks before releasing them.

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