DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -

Marine science officials say a high number of turtle turtles found stranded on beaches from north Florida to Georgia may be caused by an unusually long period of winter weather.

A spokeswoman for the Volusia County's Marine Science Center says they've cared for more sick sea turtles during the past month as they did during all of last year.

The Daytona Beach News-Journal reports state wildlife officials say most of the sea turtles are chronically ill.

Florida's Fish and Wildlife agency's sea turtle biologist Allen Foley says the longer winter is the "working hypothesis."

He says the lower water temperatures suppress the turtles' immune systems, leaving them "susceptible to being sick."

The center has received 69 live sea turtles since Jan. 1. They treated 40 sea turtles in 2012.