Sea turtles face surgery due to cold spell

Jan. 27, 2010 at 12:54 PM
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BOCA RATON, Fla., Jan. 27 (UPI) -- A nature center official in Boca Raton, Fla., said 35 green sea turtles underwent surgery for a disease caused in part by cold temperatures in the state.

Gumbo Limbo Nature Center marine conservationist Kirt Rusenko said Florida's recent two-week cold spell resulted in the 35 sea turtles needing treatment for fibropapilloma, which is characterized by cauliflower-like tumors, The Palm Beach (Fla.) Post said Tuesday.

Rusenko said because the sea turtles are reptiles, the animals are unable to produce their own internal body heat. Therefore, the sea turtles' body temperatures simply dropped along with weather temperatures during the cold spell, Rusenko added.

As a result of the cold snap in Florida, nearly 4,000 sea turtles went into shock statewide.

The Post said the skin tumors caused by fibropapilloma can become particularly dangerous when they grow in or near turtles' eyes, potentially causing blindness.

Participating in Tuesday's surgeries were volunteers and staff members at Disney's Animal Kingdom, the Georgia Sea Turtle Center and the Loggerhead Marinelife Center in Juno Beach, Fla.

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