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Here's how wildlife is coping (or not) with the US big freeze

Saturday January 6, 2018 - 15:34 EDT
ABC licensed image
Wildlife volunteers carry cold-stunned sea turtles in Florida. - ABC licensed

It is not just people who are suffering in the aftermath of a powerful blizzard in the north-east of the United States.

As temperatures plunge even further during a , animals have also been caught up in the big freeze.

So far there's been reports of on a beach in Massachusetts, and sea turtles stiffening up and floating to ocean surfaces.







The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) has warned people to watch out for cold-stunned sea turtles and manatees.

"We have rescued more than 200 cold-stunned sea turtles throughout Florida so far," they tweeted on Friday.

The organisation says the turtles are taken back to their office, checked for injuries and diseases and then stored in a room-temperature area until they have warmed up enough to be released back into the wild.



Manatees are also struggling with the colder weather, gathering in warm-water habitats such as discharge canals at power plants and natural springs.

"Boaters should avoid areas where large numbers of manatees are gathered," head of FWC's Fish and Wildlife Research Institute Gil McRae said.

"Aggregated animals should not be disturbed, as this could cause them to leave the warm-water sites that help them cope with cold temperatures."



Long periods of unusually cold weather can also kill fish outright by "cold stress" or make fish more susceptible to disease, FWC said.

"Warm-water species, including the popular game fish snook, are particularly vulnerable to cold temperatures," it said.

"Affected fish may appear lethargic and may be seen at the surface where the water may be warmer from the sun."



But it's not all bad news, with some animals enjoying the colder climate.

People have taken to social media to share videos of their pets playing in the snow, though owners have been warned to keep their pets warm.



The United States Wildlife Land Trust says some animals are naturally able to cope with the cold, through hibernation, natural insulation, winter-grade coats and feathers, conserving energy and fattening up.

"The wildlife in New England has survived cold winters for thousands of years," Marion Larson, education chief at the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife, is quoted as saying on their website.

"They have got a whole lot of different tricks up their sleeves — as it were — in surviving cold winters [and] cold snaps."

The storm system that hit the US on Thursday was so intense that forecasters .


- ABC

© ABC 2018

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