Cold-stunning in sea turtles is a frequent natural cause of mortality and is defined as a hypothermic state due to exposure to water temperatures <12°C. Derangements of biochemistry and hematology data by cold stunning have been well documented, although the effects on coagulation have not yet been investigated. The objectives of this study were to characterize the hemostatic state of non–cold-stunned sea turtles and to compare cold-stunned sea turtles at admission and after successful rehabilitation via a sea turtle–specific thromboelastography (TEG) protocol. TEG enables evaluation of the entire coagulation process, and the methodology has recently been established in sea turtles. Initially, 30 wild and apparently healthy sea turtles were sampled as controls: loggerhead sea turtles (Caretta caretta), n =17; Kemp's ridley sea turtles (Lepidochelys kempii), n = 8; and green turtles (Chelonia mydas), n = 5. In addition, paired TEG samples were performed on 32 Ch. mydas and 14 L. kempii at admission and prerelease after successful rehabilitation from cold stunning. Statistically significant differences in reaction time, kinetics, angle, and maximum amplitude parameters in L. kempii and Ch. mydas species demonstrated that the time taken for blood clot formation was prolonged and the strength of the clot formed was reduced by cold stunning. These findings indicate that cold stunning may cause disorders in hemostasis that can contribute to the severity of the condition. Early diagnosis of coagulopathies in the clinical assessment of a cold-stunned sea turtle may influence the treatment approach and clinical outcome of the case.
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