December 10th, 2010
As temperatures have fallen rapidly to below freezing, facilities across the state are assisting with lethargic sea turtles. The NC Aquarium at Fort Fisher is assisting with the rehabilitation of 13 turtles.
The 13 juvenile green sea turtles were cold-stunned. “Cold-stunning” is a process that causes sea turtles to become immobile due to the dramatic decrease in water temperature, making it impossible for them to escape the cold water and migrate to warmer water. Cold-stunned turtles can float to the surface of the water and be pushed by wind and waves onto shore. A cold-stunned sea turtle on land may appear to be dead, but may actually be alive. Without proper intervention, a cold stunned sea turtle will inevitably die.
Aquarium staff placed the turtles in large holding tanks, where they were assessed. It’s important that they be warmed slowly under controlled conditions. Any injuries to the animals are treated. The turtles will remain at the Aquarium for further rehabilitation and eventual release. While all three NC Aquariums assist with cold-stunned sea turtles care, more severe cases are sent to the Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Center in Topsail Beach.
To report the stranding of a sea turtle in the Kure Beach and Carolina Beach areas, call the Pleasure Island Sea Turtle Project at (888) 290-1065.To report a sea turtle stranding in other areas, call the NC Wildlife Resources Commission Sea Turtle Project (252) 241-7367. Do not place the turtle in water or try to warm the turtle. The stranding response team will provide additional instructions based upon the situation.
NOTE: On Saturday, December 11 at 3:00 PM, the Aquarium will be hosting "Meet a Green Sea Turtle"
Fee: $5.00; Aquarium admission not included
For a limited time only you can meet 13 green sea turtles brought to the Aquarium on Dec. 8 to recover from severe cold stunning. Learn about green sea turtles, cold stunning, and how the Aquarium prepares these animals for return to to the wild. Also, learn what to do if you encounter a cold stun turtle this winter.
To read more about these recent cold stunned turtle incidents, check out these recent stories in the local media:
•Wilmington Star - Cold-stunned turtles wash ashore on Southeastern N.C. beaches
•WECT - Cold-stunned turtles wash ashore on NC beaches
•WWAY - Sea turtles struggling in cold