‘Caretta carettas in danger of hypothermia’
The endangered Caretta caretta sea turtles are at the risk of experiencing cold shock due to hypothermia with the onset of winters as the air cools down, said Professor Yakup Kaska, the head of the Sea Turtles Research, Rescue and Rehabilitation Center (DEKAMER), adding that there is no problem in the Mediterranean and Aegean seas at present.
Kaska said that because of Caretta caretta sea turtles’ slow metabolism, treatments requiring medication take time during the winter period, and it can even take longer in case if the turtles swallow fishing lines or experience head trauma.
He also said that many turtles, which do not migrate in mass, face the danger of hypothermia due to the sudden temperature decrease in the open seas.
Hypothermia can lead to decreased heart rate and circulation, thus the loss of eating and swimming abilities, and finally leading to freezing and death, Kaska said, adding that about 40 sea turtles were rescued from hypothermia off the coast of Massachusetts recently.
These turtles were taken to Florida by plane for treatment by a volunteer organization called Turtles Can Fly Too, he stated.
Explaining that the condition of hypothermia can occur with sea temperatures dropping considerably, Kaska stated such a case was not seen in the Mediterranean and Aegean seas though there could be a possibility in the Black, Marmara, and other northern seas.
Stating that the blood circulation of the turtles slows down alarmingly when the air and seawater are extremely cold, making it difficult for the nutrients and oxygen in the blood to reach the cells, Kaska said: “They become weak and wash ashore. Although this is not very common in our country, they can be spotted quite frequently in the ocean coasts, Atlantic and other northern regions.”
Stating that hundreds of sea turtles can wash ashore from the ocean in the north of Florida, the professor said that treatments are given to save the sea turtles, which include slowly increasing their body temperature along with serum supplements.
Noting that such a sea turtle once washed ashore in Turkey many years ago in the northwestern province of Balıkesir, he said, “Our seawater temperatures create suitable environments for the reproduction and life of turtles.”