Marylanders on Alert: DNR Seeks Assistance in Spotting Cold-Stunned Marine Creatures

Sharing is caring!

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is urging residents to stay alert for cold-stunned sea turtles and other marine animals as water temperatures drop in the Chesapeake Bay and along the Atlantic Coast.

Cold-stunning is a condition that affects animals, leading to symptoms similar to hypothermia due to prolonged exposure to cold temperatures.

This phenomenon is typically observed in late autumn and early winter when water temperatures experience rapid declines, as outlined by the DNR.

Lethargic animals pose a risk to themselves and potentially to boaters, and cold-stunning can be fatal for certain species.


The Stranding Network responds to numerous cases of cold-stunned sea turtles along the Atlantic Coast annually, according to the DNR.

While sea turtles are the primary victims, the DNR notes that West Indian manatees, which occasionally venture into Maryland waters, can also fall victim to cold-stunning.

The DNR’s Marine Mammal and Sea Turtle Response Program previously handled a case in 2016 involving a cold-stunned manatee that became stranded and perished at the Dundalk Marine Terminal.

Individuals who encounter lethargic, floating, debilitated, or deceased sea turtles or marine mammals in Maryland waters are urged to maintain a safe distance and promptly contact the DNR Police Hotline at 800-628-9944.

Both marine mammals and sea turtles are protected by law, and any form of harassment, feeding, or collection of these animals may lead to fines, imprisonment, and/or the confiscation of boats and personal property.

How Fast Can A Sea Turtle Swim?

Many people have a misconception about sea turtles being fast swimmers in the open ocean, but the reality is quite the opposite.

See also  Sea Turtles' Sweet Tooth: Gobbling Jellyfish as if They're Candy

Sea turtles generally prefer to swim at a slow, leisurely pace. For instance, green sea turtles typically cruise at speeds ranging from 0.9 to 1.4 mph.

However, when necessary, these turtles can accelerate their movement.

It’s important not to assume that the cruising speed represents the maximum capability of a sea turtle.

The species can significantly increase their speed, particularly when under threat. For instance, leatherback sea turtles have been observed swimming at speeds of up to 35 kph or 22 mph.

The swimming speed varies among different sea turtle subspecies, with an average range falling between 1.9 to 6 mph. Nevertheless, sea turtles may move at a slower or faster pace depending on their mood or condition. Learn more here, How Fast Can A Sea Turtle Swim?

Sharing is caring!

About Author

Muntaseer Rahman started keeping pet turtles back in 2013. He also owns the largest Turtle & Tortoise Facebook community in Bangladesh. These days he is mostly active on Facebook.


This site is owned and operated by Muntaseer Rahman. is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to This site also participates in other affiliate programs and is compensated for referring traffic and business to these companies.