Cold-Stunned Sea Turtles
Each winter, juvenile Kemp's ridley sea turtles strand off the coast of New England due to an event called cold-stunning. Turtles are unable to regulate their body temperatures, and when the water temperature becomes too cold, the turtles become weak and have difficulty swimming. They float at the surface of the water, stop eating, suffer from frostbite, and become susceptible to secondary infections as well as other health problems.
Kemp's ridleys are the most endangered species of sea turtle and are federally protected animals – facilities caring for and rehabilitating these turtles must adhere to strict guidelines. Since opening in 2020, Mississippi Aquarium has rehabilitated and released 20 Kemp's ridley turtles. Because Kemp's ridley turtles are native to the Gulf of Mexico, they can be released into the waters off the Mississippi coast upon completing rehabilitation. Currently, the Aquarium has 52 turtles undergoing rehabilitation. Last year the Aquarium spent over $7,000 on sea turtle rehabilitation. Over the next several months, the team at the Aquarium could really use your support in caring for an influx of temporary residents!