Mississippi Aquarium has received 50 cold-stunned endangered Kemp’s ridley sea turtles from New England Aquarium.
The turtles arrived at the Gulfport Airport on Tuesday afternoon courtesy of the non-profit organization Turtles Fly Too.
At this time, the aquarium’s veterinary staff is treating the turtles at an offsite research center as the animals are experiencing symptoms of cold stunning.
According to NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric), cold stunning occurs when “sea turtles become weak and inactive from exposure to cold temperatures. It occurs when water temperatures fall below 50˚F (10˚C) where sea turtles are present.
Cold-stunned turtles become lethargic and eventually cannot swim, causing them to float at the surface. Wind and tides wash them ashore. If temperatures remain low or turtles are not rescued, they can develop secondary health problems or die. Hundreds or even thousands of sea turtles can be affected by cold-stunning events.”
Once the turtles have been rehabilitated and cleared of all medical issues, they will be released into the Gulf of Mexico.
“Since Mississippi Aquarium opened in August 2020, we have had the privilege of working with New England Aquarium to rehabilitate and release almost 70 endangered Kemp’s ridley sea turtles,” Mississippi Aquarium President and CEO Kurt Allen said. “We look forward to assisting New England Aquarium again this season by providing exceptional veterinary care that furthers this critical conservation effort for these highly endangered turtles.”
Mississippi Aquarium has established itself as a leader in Kemp’s ridley sea turtle conservation through its rehabilitation and release program.