Hypothermia or cold-stunning is a condition in which the body temperature of an animal decreases below normal physiologic range and which has been linked to severe morbidity in sea turtles. Reports have focused on the physiologic changes caused by cold-stunning in Kemp's Ridley sea turtles (Lepidochelys kempii) and loggerhead sea turtles (Caretta caretta), but few have evaluated the green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas). This study evaluated hematologic and serum biochemical profiles of cold-stunned green sea turtles in North Carolina, USA. When compared with healthy, free-ranging juvenile green turtles from the same region, cold-stunned turtles exhibited hypoglycemia, hypocalcemia (both total and ionized calcium), hyponatremia, hypokalemia, hypoproteinemia, hypoalbuminemia, hyperphosphatemia, and elevations in uric acid and blood urea nitrogen. These findings contrast with some previously reported changes in cold-stunned Kemp's Ridley and loggerhead sea turtles. These results emphasize the importance of basing therapeutic regimens on biochemical analyses in cold-stunned sea turtles.
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