CAPE COD, MASSACHUSETTS — At least 219 cold stunned sea turtles have washed ashore in Cape Cod Bay, Massachusetts over the last week.
According to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, cold stunning occurs when the sea turtles are exposed to extreme periods of cold water temperatures.
This impairs sea turtles as they are cold-blooded reptiles and depend on external sources for heat. They do not have the ability to warm themselves in cold water.
Turtles with the condition suffer from various symptoms including, a decreased heart rate, low blood circulation, shock, pneumonia and death.
Robert Prescott, director of the Massachusetts Audubon Society's Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary, told the paper the sea turtles were "flash-frozen" in swimming positions.
Prescott added changing weather conditions next week may result in more living turtles.