CMA program helps rehabilitate cold-stunned turtles

The Clearwater Marine Aquarium may be best known for its non-releasable dolphins, but sea turtles make up a large portion of their efforts to rescue, rehabilitate and release marine life. 

"With these sea turtles we go through an entire process of they come in, they get assessed, they get testing to figure out what’s wrong. Then they get treatment. We give them a wonderful, high-quality diet and get them into the wild as quickly as possible, so they can contribute to their populations," said Dr. Shelly Marquardt, a veterinarian with Clearwater Marine Aquarium.

During the winter months, Marquardt says CMA sees a lot of cold-stunned turtles.

RELATED: ‘Cold stunned’ sea turtles warm up in Florida Keys

"When the water temperature gets very cold, they can get very cold. They can get comatose and lethargic and can develop serious infections," stated Marquardt. 

The northeast often sees a lot of cold-stunned turtles in the winter months, including Kemp’s ridley turtles, which are critically endangered. These turtles are typically taken to an aquarium in the northeast where they are stabilized. Then they are flown south to Florida to continue their rehabilitation and make more room at northern aquariums.  


16 years ago, Winter the dolphin was rescued from a crab trap line

It was 16 years ago when Winter the dolphin was rescued after she was caught in a crab trap line near Cape Canaveral. This weekend will be a somber celebration as the Clearwater Marine Aquarium marks that anniversary, which comes less than a month after Winter's death.

READ: 16 years ago, Winter the dolphin was rescued from a crab trap line

Guests at CMA can see the entire rehab hospital, including its surgery suite and pools where turtles are kept as they are rehabilitated. 

"We love to educate the public, so you guys can help us save this species," said Marquardt.

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