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Massachusetts animals stunned by cold fed in Mississippi


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Some experts believe climate change is increasing the number of afflicted turtles off Cape Cod every winter.

Sea turtles can become lethargic when stunned by the cooling water around them before they can swim to warmer waters. Celeste Forcier / Mississippi Aquarium via AP

GULFPORT, Mississippi (AP) – Forty endangered sea turtles that were injured when the water off Massachusetts cooled so quickly they could no longer swim are brought back to health at the Mississippi Aquarium , piloted by a group of volunteer pilots known as Turtles Also Fly.

All are Kemp’s turtles, the smallest sea turtles in the world and the most endangered of six species found in U.S. waters, the aquarium said in a press release Monday.

“Kemp’s 40 ridleys are quite small,” as little as 2.2 pounds (1 kilogram), said Alexa Delaune, vice president of veterinary services for the aquarium. Most showed signs of pneumonia and would be treated with antibiotics, she said.

Sea turtles can become lethargic when stunned by the cooling water around them before they can swim to warmer waters. The cold alone can kill them. It can also lead to pneumonia, shock, and frostbite.

Some experts believe climate change is increasing the number of afflicted turtles off Cape Cod every winter.

This group of turtles was flown to Gulfport on Friday after the New England Aquarium in Massachusetts ran out of room and called for help, the Mississippi Aquarium spokesperson said, Jeff Clark.

The aquarium was already caring for two turtles rescued from Massachusetts last year, one with a severe lung infection and the other with a shoulder infection that restricts movement. The Boston Aquarium had asked the Gulfport Aquarium to take them to make room for this year’s injured, officials said in November.

Last year, 75 turtles stranded in Massachusetts were treated in Gulfport and New Orleans. Thirty were sent to the Audubon Species Survival Center in New Orleans, 25 to the Mississippi Aquarium, and 20 to the Institute for Marine Mammal Studies in Gulfport.

The Audubon center is not addressing any sea turtles from this winter’s strandings but is ready to do so if necessary, spokeswoman Annie Kinler Matherne said.



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