BALTIMORE (WJZ) — The sudden onset of cold weather may not be pleasant for most of us, but is potentially lethal for sea turtles. Alex Demetrick reports, it’s hit hard this year, and brought a major rescue response from Aquariums including, Baltimore’s.

Coming up for a bite of lettuce is a big improvement for endangered green sea turtles who are recovering from a phenomenon known as cold-stun.

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“It’s basically like hypothermia in humans,” Jen Dittmar with the National Aquarium Animal Rescue said. “Their body temperature plummets and they basically can’t swim or eat and they just float on the water wherever wind and waves take them.”

In one case, a massive stranding along Cape Cod. Thirty-two of the turtles are being cared for by a team at Baltimore’s National Aquarium. The turtles have secondary infections in their joints, as well as, respiratory and eye inflammations. Because sea turtles are reptiles, they are vulnerable to winter’s first cold water.

“Basically causes a lot of chemical imbalance in their body and can crash their immune system,” Dittmar said.

Normally numbers of turtles stranded by cold are in the hundreds. This year, it is not normal.

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“This year they have well over a thousand turtles that have stranded along Cape Cod,” Dittmar said.

Because there are so many this year, they have been air lifted to aquariums down the length of the east coast.

The National Aquarium’s Animal Rescue program will keep an eye on their 32 turtles until they are well enough to be transported to warmer waters for release.

“Considering all of these turtles are critically endangered species, so each individual we can get into its natural environment is really helping the population as a whole,” Dittmar said.

Some of the sea turtles could spend up to three months recovering in Baltimore.

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