CCC Takes Action To Help Cold Stunned Turtles

Date: January 13, 2010
Contact: Rocio Johnson
 (352) 373-6441

As freezing winter temperatures put Florida's sea turtles at risk, CCC is stepping in to help conservation groups across the state deal with this crisis.

Sea turtles are generally attracted to Florida's warm waters and rich food sources, but this winter Florida is experiencing some of the lowest temperatures in 20 years. As temperatures drop, cold-blooded sea turtles become almost catatonic, which makes it difficult for them to swim and surface for air. In this cold-stunned state, turtles can catch pneumonia or even drown if they are not rescued in time.

CCC's work in Florida normally focuses on research, education and advocacy, but many small organizations and aquariums around Florida that are specifically set up and permitted to respond to stranded or injured sea turtles are struggling to cope with the large influx of cold-stunned turtles. These facilities are now beyond their capacity to care for turtles, and CCC is taking action to help respond to this crisis affecting sea turtles.

To help care for cold stunned turtles from the Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge, CCC is working with our Brevard County partners to house and care for nearly 100 affected turtles at the Barrier Island Center. Staff members from CCC's Gainesville headquarters are assisting state and federal wildlife officials to care for over 1,000 stunned turtles being housed at the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge in Titusville, Florida.

CCC also is preparing to distribute at least $20,000 in emergency funding, available through the Sea Turtle Grants Program, to local groups and rehabilitation centers in order to help cover unexpected financial needs associated with this crisis. These much needed funds will be used for shelter, supplies and medicine to care for the turtles.

How can you help?

Make a donation to the emergency fund.

While the emergency funds awarded by the Sea Turtle Grants Program are essential to helping Florida's conservation groups during this emergency, you are encouraged to take action by volunteering at a local facility if you live in Florida or by making a donation to the emergency fund online at www.conserveturtles.org.

You can also play an important role in protecting Florida's sea turtles throughout the year by purchasing a “Helping Sea Turtles Survive” specialty license plate for your vehicle. The funds generated from the sale of the specialty license plate provide funding to organizations in Florida working directly with sea turtles. Over the last 10 years, almost half a million dollars have been awarded to help rehabilitation facilities and other institutions set up turtle tanks, hire veterinarians, purchase medical supplies and train volunteers to deal with sick and injured turtles. To learn more about the “Helping Sea Turtles Survive” specialty license, visit www.helpingseaturtles.org.

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The Sea Turtle Conservancy, formerly known as the Caribbean Conservation Corporation, is a not-for-profit, 501(c)3 organization based in Florida with offices and projects in several other locations. The Sea Turtle Conservancy is the oldest and most accomplished sea turtle organization in the world. Since its founding in 1959, the Sea Turtle Conservancy's work has greatly improved the survival outlook for several species of sea turtles. The Sea Turtle Conservancy has as its mission the protection of sea turtles and the habitats upon which they depend. To achieve its mission, the Sea Turtle Conservancy uses research, habitat protection, public education, community outreach, networking and advocacy as its basic tools. These tools are applied in both international and domestic programs focusing on geographic areas that are globally important to sea turtle survival. For more information, visit the STC website at www.conserveturtles.org or call (800) 678-7853.

Image by Grace Foley Brevard EELS Program