Loggerhead turtles are reptiles and therefore do not generate their own body heat. As the temperatures drop below 60 degrees, the turtles become ” cold stunned” making them lethargic, as they float to the top of the ocean.
Many turtles wind up with pneumonia and die. Mammals are able to stay warm in cold temperatures by increasing their metabolic rate, however the turtles metabolic rate drops, and their body temperatures adjust to the surrounding temperature of the water. Blood flow is restricted to their extremities in order to keep their body core warm, and at the same time they become disoriented and defenseless from predators and susceptible to drowning.
In South Florida, the Loggerhead Marine Life at Juno Beach, has recently taken in 33 turtles this winter because of frigid temperatures and expect 15 more turtles to arrive. Once the turtles are warmed up, blood tests are done to ensure the turtles do not have pneumonia, and once the water temperatures normalize, the turtles are released back into the wild, however the unusually frigid weather pattern is not the only factor affecting loggerhead survival.
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