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Massachusetts Sea Turtle Hospital Braces For ‘Cold Stunning Season’


Volunteer Lydia McDonald checks the jaw of a Kemp’s Ridley sea turtle as volunteer Ally Chadwick gently grips its sides. This routine is a part of the turtle’s physical exams.
Photo by Avory Brookins for RIPR

During a July morning at the New England Aquarium Animal Care Center in Quincy, Massachusetts, a clinical volunteer checked the heart rate of a Kemp’s Ridley sea turtle with a Doppler instrument as a part of its physical exam.

A steady, healthy heart beat radiated through the device’s speaker.

Kemp’s Ridley sea turtles have an average heart rate of 40-50 beats per minute; however, around this time of year, volunteers often have turtles come into the hospital whose hearts are beating only 5 to 10 times every minute.

That’s because of a condition called cold stunning.

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