The cold weather isn't just affecting people and citrus, it's affecting sea turtles, too.
On the same day that Mote released a sea turtle back into the Gulf of Mexico, a green seat turtle was brought in and is being treated. Other cold-stunned turtles are expected to arrive this weekend, said spokeswoman Hayley Rutger, adding to the overcrowding at the Sea Turtle Rehabilitation Hospital.
"This is an unusual surge of cold temperatures, so we're seeing a lot of turtles in trouble," said Mote veterinarian Dr. Andy Stamper. "We're going into overdrive to care for these animals. Green sea turtles are an endangered species, so helping every individual is especially important."
The turtle at Mote is considered juvenile to sub-adult and not yet mature enough to reproduce. It was delivered Thursday by staff of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission after it was rescued from the Titusville area.
The turtle has symptoms of cold-stunning, which renders turtles lethargic and can shut down their organs and bodily functions, Rutger said. It also has papilloma tumors, which are growths on the soft tissues that can disable or even kill a turtle. Mote is one of only three facilities in Florida that treats papilloma turtles.
Mote staff also received two other young green turtles on Thursday, one with debilitating papilloma tumors on the corneas of both eyes and another with papilloma tumors that was also unable to use its rear flippers due to an old boat-strike injury. That animal was found floating at the water's surface, making it vulnerable to future boat strikes.
In the face of these turtles' severe conditions, euthanasia was the most humane option, Stamper said.
The prognosis remains uncertain for the remaining turtle.