NEW ORLEANS (press release) – On January 23, Audubon’s Coastal Wildlife Network team was contacted by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration about a floating cold-stunned green sea turtle outside of Belle Pass in Port Fourchon, LA. The turtle was spotted by members of the public who were able to secure it until CWN team members could arrive. The female turtle was then transported to Audubon’s Aquatic Center for rehabilitation, where she is currently stable.

When temperatures drop, turtles experience hypothermia or cold stunning. Symptoms of cold-stunning can include decreased heart and respiration rates, and decreased circulation. Once a turtle is cold stunned, they are lethargic and have trouble lifting their head above the water to breathe. All can be followed by shock and pneumonia.

Upon intake, the CWN team gave the animal fluids, antibiotics, and a full medical workup including ultrasound, radiographs, eye exam, physical exam, and blood work. The CWN team is slowly raising the turtle’s body temperature by a few degrees each day to prevent her body from going into shock. The team hopes that this turtle will be able to be released back into the Gulf of Mexico in the coming months as the water temperatures rise.

“We appreciate the public calling in this turtle. As with all cold stuns, it is a matter of life and death,” said Audubon Marine Mammal and Sea Turtle Stranding, Rescue, and Rehab Coordinator Gabriella Harlamert. “With protected species such as green sea turtles, every individual matters to the population as a whole.”

CWN is committed to the humane care and treatment of injured, ill, or displaced marine animals in Louisiana and is the only entity in the state responsible for the rehabilitation of live marine mammals and sea turtles. The information CWN collects from stranded animals provides a snapshot into the health of the marine environment and provides a better understanding of threats to marine mammals and sea turtles in the wild.

The public is advised to report all stranded marine mammals and sea turtles (live or dead) to CWN at (504) 235-3005.

When reporting strandings, the public should be prepared to give:

  • Exact location and/or GPS coordinates,
  • Photographs of the animal, and
  • Nature of the report (type of animal/live or dead/size, etc.).

Recommendations when reporting a live stranded animal include:

  • Don’t push an animal on shore back into the water.
  • Put human safety above animal safety. If conditions are dangerous, do not attempt to approach the animal.
  • Keep crowds away and noise levels down to avoid causing stress to the animal.
  • If the animal returns to the water on its own, don’t attempt to interact with it.
  • Leave all entanglements that may be present on the animal.