Turtle trouble: cold temps shock their bodies

By Juan Carlos Fanjul - bio | email

JUNO BEACH, FL (WFLX)-- For Ellan BenHayon and his family visiting from New Jersey, peeking through the window of the turtle hospital at Loggerhead Marinelife Center, was an education about mother nature.

It was a mass casualty situation. 8 turtles struggling to stay alive because of our deep freeze.

"It's scary. You'd think only humans are affected, but with the temperature changes you forget who else is affected, obviously turtles," he said.

These endangered green turtles are suffering from their version of hypothermia. That's why they seemed paralyzed.

Their bodies have taken on the temperatures of the chilly Atlantic and that could kill them.

"When this happens quickly a lot of times they end up in distress. They get pneumonia, they get dehydrated, frostbite on their flippers and so a lot of them will end up stranding," said Melissa Ranly, hospital coordinator.

The young turtles took x-rays and then were weighed and photographed as staffers tried to figure out if their conditions could worsen.

"We want to slowly warm up their body temperatures and check for pneumonia and fluids accordingly," said Ranly.

It's all been a lesson for these tourists who realized humans are not the only ones suffering in frigid Florida.

"Thank god there are places like this for turtles that get stranded in the ocean," added BenHayon.

The marinelife center has plenty of supplies to house them, but they need help buying more vitamins and meds because more turtles are expected to come in Friday.

If you feel you would like to help financially, the center's number is 561-627-8280 extension 102.