Five Green Sea Turtles rescued from Florida’s east coast are being cared for at Mote Marine Laboratory.
The turtles came into Mote lethargic and covered with algae and barnacles.
“We’ve been giving them around-the-clock care since they arrived,” said Lynne Byrd, Mote’s Veterinary Technician.
State wildlife officials say turtles have been stranding themselves since February, from Duvall through Brevard Counties.
Dr. Allen Foley, wildlife biologist and stranding coordinator with Florida’s Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission says the number of loggerhead and green turtle strandings have been three times higher than average for this time period.
About 160 to 170 loggerhead and sea turtles have been stranded in this area so far this year, including about 50 that were still alive.
All of the turtles have had similar symptoms. Researchers have not figured out what is making the turtles sick.
They are considering the possibility that both species were simultaneously exposed to some sort of toxin in the food they were eating.
The toxin may have originated from some sort of harmful algal bloom.
“There are potentially thousands of toxins that could be causing the problem, including many that are likely unknown to us, so finding a cause isn’t easy,” Foley said.