Photo courtesy NOAA Fisheries

Sea Turtles, Marine Mammals At Risk From Low Temperatures

News Release, Maryland Department of Natural Resources

Anglers, Boaters, and Beachcombers Should Report ‘Cold-Stunning’

When water temperatures decline, sea turtles and some marine animals can be caught off guard. Since sea turtles are cold-blooded animals, a dramatic decline in water temperatures can cause hypothermia or cold-stunning. The immediate impacts can cause some species to become slow and unresponsive, making them dangerous to themselves and boaters. 

Cold-stunning can also be lethal to marine mammals such as the Florida manatees. While rare, some manatees will trek northward into the Chesapeake Bay during the summer months and stay until fall. As with sea turtles, cold snaps can cause severe hypothermia in manatees and could even be fatal. Last year alone, marine animal rescue organizations responded to nearly 1,000 cold-stunned animals along the east coast.  

“Cold-stunning to sea turtles and marine mammals can occur from late October to early winter,” said Amanda Weschler, coordinator of Maryland’s Marine Mammal and Sea Turtle Stranding Response Program. “While cold-stunning is a natural occurrence, it’s very important to report any sightings to the department.” 

As a reminder, marine mammals are protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act while sea turtles are protected under the Endangered Species Act. If you come across a stunned animal, harassment, feeding, or collecting these species can result in fines, imprisonment, or the seizure of vessels and personal property.

Anyone who sees an unresponsive or lethargic sea turtle or marine animal in the water or on the beach should call the Maryland Marine Mammal Stranding Hotline at 800-628-9944. The hotline is manned year-round, 24 hours a day. 


The Southern Maryland Chronicle is a local, small business entrusted to provide factual, unbiased reporting to the Southern Maryland Community. While we look to local businesses for advertising, we hope to keep that cost as low as possible in order to attract even the smallest of local businesses and help them get out to the public. We must also be able to pay employees(part-time and full-time), along with equipment, and website related things. We never want to make the Chronicle a “pay-wall” style news site.

To that end, we are looking to the community to offer donations. Whether it’s a one-time donation or you set up a reoccurring monthly donation. It is all appreciated. All donations at this time will be going to furthering the Chronicle through hiring individuals that have the same goals of providing fair, and unbiased news to the community. For now, donations will be going to a business PayPal account I have set-up for the Southern Maryland Chronicle, KDC Designs. All business transactions currently occur within this PayPal account. If you have any questions regarding this you can email me at davidhiggins@southernmarylandchronicle.com

Thank you for all of your support and I hope to continue bringing Southern Maryland the best news possible for a very long time. — David M. Higgins II




© 2019 The Southern Maryland Chronicle. All Rights Reserved. This website is not intended for users located within the European Economic Area.