This is a call for all islanders to please be watchful for cold-stunned sea turtles along the shore. This goes for the north shore of the island as well as the Gulf beach.
Word came from the Park Service today that twenty cold-stunned sea turtles have been found in our district so far and that only five of them have survived. Most of them were found on the north side of the island. The record-breaking number of consecutive days below freezing is having a devastating impact on our sea turtles, though our area has not been affected as bad as the St. Joe area where several hundred have been found.
Cold-stunning is a process that causes sea turtles to become immobile due to the dramatic decrease in water temperature making it impossible for them to escape the cold water and migrate to warmer water. Once these turtles wash up on our beaches, it is a race to save them. A cold-stunned sea turtle may appear to be dead, but actually be alive! Without proper intervention a cold stunned sea turtle will inevitably die.
If you should see a cold-stunned turtle along Pensacola Beach (I'm referring to the residential and core area - Gulf Islands National Seashore areas are being patrolled), please e-mail me as soon as possible at firstname.lastname@example.org so that I can alert properly-trained people to handle the situation. Do not attempt to put the sea turtle back in the water if it is on shore and do not attempt to warm it with blankets since rapid warming can cause irreversible damage.
Thank you for your help.