Sea turtles rescued from cold Panhandle waters

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The dropping temperatures can have a bad effect on sea turtles.

They can become cold-stunned and appear to be dead.

Many of these animals can be saved with proper care and the FWC asks everyone to keep their eyes on the water and report any turtle in trouble.

Thursday, a group from the FWC rescued a group of turtles in trouble off St. Joe's Bay in the Florida Panhandle. It was a race against time, but most of the turtles seem to be coming back to life as normal.

In just a short period, their boat was filled with turtles. Some will need medical care. Others could end up at Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium in Sarasota.

“When an animal is cold-stunned they get a lot of external injuries from frostbite like we would. They also are immune-compromised now. They are subjected to bacterial infections, fungal infections,” Mote Marine’s rehabilitation and medical care coordinator, Lynne Byrd said.

Mote is caring for 10 turtles rescued from the cold in Cape Cod.

In 2010 a cold snap sent 5,000 sea turtles to various rehab centers in Florida.

“These animals, if they didn't get to a warm spot they will look listless and dead and they'll float into the shore, however it will take an expert to tell you if it's dead or not,” Byrd said.

With temperatures expected to warm up over the weekend and into next week, scientists say they'll still be keeping an eye on the water. They say turtles take a few extra days to rebound from those cold snaps.

“With these really cold stunning events that happen really fast sometimes, they don't even have the energy to do that they can't move. Their heart rate slows down. Their breathing slows down and they'll float into shore,” Byrd explained.

And if the turtles aren't rescued they face a grim future.

“They're taken out by predators. They're hit by boats,” Byrd said. “We are depending on the public who are out there to report any signs of trouble.”