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Forty endangered sea turtles are safe and are warming up in the Florida Keys after being found “cold-stunned” in the waters off Cape Cod in Massachusetts.

“Cold stunning” is a hypothermic reaction that occurs when sea turtles are exposed to cold water for a prolonged time, according to Turtle Hospital manager Bette Zirkelbach, who shared information in an interview with SouthFloridaReporter.com. When this happens, it causes the sea turtles to stop eating and swimming.

Fox 13 in Tampa reported that hundreds of the sea turtles washed up on beaches, but local aquariums couldn’t take care of them all. A private group of pilots called Turtles Fly Too donated their fuel and time to fly 40 of them to Marathon, Florida, where they will be treated at marine centers all across the state.

What’s Next For The Turtles

“They could be at the Turtle Hospital anywhere from 30 days to a year’s time, depending on their condition when they arrived here,” said Zirkelbach. “Once we warm them up, they’re going to go to another part of Florida to be returned to the ocean and that’s our goal with these 40 turtles.”

“We’re hoping, flippers crossed, that they all go back to sea,” she said.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Kemp Ridley Turtles are the smallest marine turtles in the world, and they’re listed as endangered. They are found primarily in the Gulf of Mexico but thrive up the east coast and as far north as Nova Scotia.

They are one of two species of sea turtles where large groups of females gather offshore and come onto the beach to nest all at once. Scientists believe this may be a defense against predators. Love sea turtles? Consider a visit to one (or more!) of these eight places to see baby sea turtles hatch!

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