Log in Subscribe

Sea turtles need help when the thermometer drops outside


BRADENTON BEACH -- People turn on the heat when the temperatures drop outside, but sea turtles can die from the cold if not rescued.

Suzi Fox directs the Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch and said this year has been the worst for saving turtles dying from the cold.


On Friday one lucky green turtle got a second chance at life, after being found by an Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch volunteer.


Suzi Fox directs the Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch and Shorebird Monitoring organization. She said the organization has rescued 30 freezing turtles over the past two months, which is unusual since they normally do just a few a year.


On Friday morning she got up to walk her dogs, as she always does, but never got out the door to do so after getting an emergency call for a turtle rescue on the island.


"We start to have problems with the sea turtles when the water drops to temperatures in the 50's," Fox said. "Today we rescued a two-years-old green sea turtle. It was emaciated and it's belly was concaved, and he had tumors around his neck."


It was business as usual for Fox, as she hopped in her car and drove to the turtle's site.


Once the green turtle was safely in the vehicle, Fox wrapped the turtle in a towel, and she held it against her chest to keep it warm until she could get it to Mote Marine Laboratory on Longboat Key.


"When a sick, injured or dead turtle comes in, we are hustling," she said, after spending the entire day tending to the green turtle's rescue. "We race to it, get it and put it into the car to assess what's going on with the turtle. We want to see if it is cold, stunned, sick or bleeding and do first-aid on the spot"


Fox admitted today's rescue was a bit longer than usual, due to new interns at MOTE.


"We had to be a little more hands-on today," she said.


But today's rescue is nothing unusual for Fox and the organization's 90 volunteers on Anna Maria Island. She said the cold weather is causing problems; all of the turtles rescued over the past few months have been put back into the sea to continue being, well, sea turtles.


Here's what you can do if you find a sea turtle in need of help.


Beach etiquette & how you can help sea turtles:

  • If you find a live hatchling on the shore call AMITW at (941) 778 5638.

  • Minimize beachfront lighting visible from the beach.

  • Do not approach an adult turtle coming out of the water to nest. You may startle her and she may return to the water without nesting.

  • Do not position yourself in front of a nesting female. This action may cause her to abort her nesting attempt.

  • Avoid using flashlights or flash cameras. Lights disrupt or disorient nesting turtles and emerging hatchlings.

  • Watch for and avoid hatchlings emerging from a nest. They are small and easily stepped on in the dark

  • Do not drive any unauthorized vehicles on the beach at night.

  • To report a dead or injured sea turtles call AMITW Stranding team at (941) 778-5638 or (941) 232-1405.

"Mote takes over the turtle from here, and we think it's going to be ok," Fox said. "If they can get his body warmed up to a regular temperature, give him fluids for feeding, then he can be put back into the gulf in a few weeks."




Erica Newport is a daily reporter for The Bradenton Times. She covers art, culture and community. If you have a story that might interest Erica, please e-mail her using erica.newport@thebradentontimes.com address.  She also takes your questions related to our weekly theme days and provides advice and opinions for our readers.

Please use this e-mail address for Ask Erica:  ask.erica@thebradentontimes.com.


No comments on this item

Only paid subscribers can comment
Please log in to comment by clicking here.