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Turtle Rescue!

When the weather turned cold in Florida, scientists worked together to save more than 60 sea turtles.

A sea turtle is shown close up, being held by a person wearing blue gloves.

USGS

U.S. Geological Survey biologist Samantha Snow holds a green sea turtle that is being rescued from the cold waters of St. Joseph Bay in Florida.

Sea turtles are meant to live in warm water. So when Florida experienced a rare period of cold weather in early 2024, scientists went into action, rescuing more than 60 turtles and transporting them to a safer location.

Scientists from the United States Geological Survey (USGS) and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission worked together to rescue the sea turtles from unusually cold waters of St. Joseph Bay, a body of water off the Gulf of Mexico. USGS biologist Margaret Lamont said that without help from humans, the turtles might not have survived.

USGS

Two scientists get sea turtles ready to be taken to a warmer location.

Turtles are cold blooded, which means they can’t regulate their own body temperature. Instead, they rely on the environment around them to maintain their temperature. When water temperatures dip below 50 degrees Fahrenheit (10 degrees Celsius), sea turtles become “cold stunned.” They’re unable to swim, and they can’t lift their heads above the surface of the water. That means they can’t breathe.

“It’s actually like when you’re really, really cold and you can’t move your fingers or your toes,” Lamont explained.

Scientists brought the turtles to the Gulf World Marine Institute, where veterinarians will care for them until the bay water is warm enough. While they have the turtles, scientists will take the opportunity to study them so they can learn more about how to keep sea turtle populations healthy.

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Did You Know?

Photos of a turtle in a sand nest, turtle eggs held in gloved hands, a turtle on a beach moving toward the water, and turtle hatchlings on sand facing the water.

U.S. National Park Service

Whether a sea turtle is male or female depends on the temperature of the sand where its mother laid her eggs!

The photos above show a mother turtle, turtle eggs, hatchlings (baby turtles), and a turtle returning to the sea after nesting.

Becoming a Veterinarian

A veterinarian smiles and wraps her arms around a small dog on a table in an exam room.

© Seventyfour/stock.adobe.com

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be a veterinarian? Here’s the lowdown on the life of an animal doctor.

What kind of education do vets need?

To become a veterinarian, you’ll need to get good grades in school. Plan to study science in college because veterinary medicine is a science.

Next, you’ll go to a four-year college and study a related subject, such as biology (the science of living things). Then you’ll go to veterinary school, which usually takes four years.

While you study veterinary medicine, you’ll spend time learning about animal health in classrooms and doing studies in labs. You’ll also get practice working with animals and watching veterinarians treat them.

Who makes a good vet?

Good vets love animals! They care about all kinds of critters and want what’s best for them.

Vets should be calm and patient. Sometimes furry, scaly, or feathered patients don’t want to cooperate. That’s especially true of wild animals.

Vets who work in clinics also need to be good with people so they can work with families to give their pets the very best care.

Where can vets work?

If you have a pet, you may have taken it to a vet clinic. Many veterinarians work in clinics that specialize in pets such as dogs, cats, rodents, and reptiles. They examine pets to make sure they’re healthy and treat them when they’re sick. Other veterinarians offer similar services but specialize in large animals like horses.

Zoos, farms, ranches, and animal shelters also employ veterinarians. Basically, vets are needed anywhere animals are cared for.

Not all vets work directly with animals. Some of them work in labs, making vaccines, medicines, and other treatments for animals.

If you’re interested in becoming a veterinarian, start by learning as much about animals as you can. Books and nature shows have tons of information, and some animal shelters even let kids visit with their furry residents!

Turtle Talk

Kayla Nimmo/NPS

Sea turtles lay their eggs in the sand. When the eggs hatch, the hatchlings (baby turtles) make their way to the water. Check out the video!

If you read the article about the turtle rescue, you might already have guessed that sea turtles live in warmer waters. You can learn a lot more about sea turtles at Britannica.

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Word of the Day

rehabilitate

Part of speech:

verb

Definition:

to restore to a condition of health or useful and constructive activity

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