CHICAGO (CBS) — Millions of Americans face another cold snap this week, but humans aren’t the only ones suffering.
The cold is putting reptiles like sea turtles in a comatose state.
CBS News’ Michelle Miller visited the Gulf World Marine Institute in Panama City Beach, Florida, which in an average year treats and rehabilitates about 30 turtles. Just in the last few weeks, they’ve seen more than 850.
In the unusually cold waters of Florida’s St. Joe Bay, an urgent rescue mission to scoop up hundreds of sea turtles floating in the water brought scientists and law enforcement officers together. The turtles were stunned by the cold and fighting for their lives.
Those endangered sea turtles go into a comatose state when water temperatures drop below 50 degrees. So with the help of volunteers, rescuers loaded them in crates and pickup trucks and took them to their next home: the Gulf World Marine Institute.
Secret Holmes-Douglas is director of the rehab center. Her team has taken in more than 850 cold-stunned sea turtles since the first week of January.
Sea turtles recover from frigid waters at the Gulf World Marine Institute in Panama City Beach, Florida. (CBS NEWS)
“It started out really slow, we had 19 on the first day and by the third we had about 200 and by Friday and Saturday and Sunday we were over 800. It happened really quickly,” Holmes-Douglas said. “It is a lot of turtles and it can be very overwhelming. However, we do get a large amount of support from all over the United States.”