SAVING SEA TURTLES TAKES A VILLAGE

NCWRC helps rescue turtles “stunned” by recent cold snap

Author: Anna Gurney/Thursday, December 21, 2023/Categories: Blog, Conservation

SAVING SEA TURTLES TAKES A VILLAGE

The Rescue Effort:

A cold front that moved through North Carolina in late November created cold-water conditions that led to 12 smaller sea turtles becoming cold-stunned (similar to hypothermia) in Pamlico Sound. These turtles (green, Kemps’ ridley and one hawksbill)  were pushed by the wind onto the sound-side shoreline of Hatteras and Ocracoke Islands, where they were found by patrollers from the Network for Endangered Sea Turtles, a group of volunteers, and staff from Cape Hatteras National Seashore, all working under authorization from the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission (NCWRC), who help protect sea turtles in the northern Outer Banks.

Rehabbing the Cold Stun Sea Turtles:

The turtles were taken to the STAR Center at the N.C. Aquarium on Roanoke Island, where they are being rehabilitated. The vet team says all of the turtles are doing well  and will be released as soon as they are deemed healthy.

The Ultimate Happy Ending – Releasing them back to the ocean

Once the turtles are healthy and deemed able to survive in the wild again, NCWRC biologists, who coordinate the N.C. Sea Turtle Stranding and Salvage Network, will arrange for their release - once again through partnerships, including the U.S. Coast Guard and research boats at UNC-W, NCSU and Duke University. 

Sea Turtle Habitat:

North Carolina estuaries provide excellent foraging habitat for juveniles of three species of sea turtles: loggerheads, Kemp’s ridleys and green turtles. However, shallow, clear waters and abundant seagrass beds can sometimes create unsuitable conditions for sea turtles. Specifically, in winter months these shallow estuarine waters can suddenly drop in temperature over the course of a single day, and remaining sea turtles may become hypothermic or cold-stunned, making them inert and float at the surface of the water.  

The Village

During the 2022-23 cold-stun season in North Carolina, there were 367 live and 443 dead turtles recovered during cold-stunning events. The live turtles were taken to the STAR Center at N.C. Aquarium Roanoke Island, N.C. Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores, and the Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Center in Surf City for rehabilitation. Nearly all the treated cold-stunned turtles were released following brief treatment thanks to help from the U.S. Coast Guard, Duke University R/V [research vessel] Shearwater, UNC Wilmington R/V Seahawk, and other research boats from N.C. State University-CMAST and the Coonamessett Farm Foundation.

Like most conservation actions, many partners and collaborators are needed to achieve successful outcomes, such as returning rehabilitated cold stunned turtles to the wild. NCWRC is proud to support and provide oversight to the numerous volunteers and organizations committed to these amazing animals.

Visit seaturtle.org for more information.

Photographer:

Photograph courtesy of N.C. Aquarium on Roanoke Island.

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6 comments on article "SAVING SEA TURTLES TAKES A VILLAGE"

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Virginia

12/21/2023 10:02 PM

I thank you for sharing this info it is good to know that there was a coordination of caring volunteers and organizations involved in their care.


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R Tolman

12/22/2023 5:11 AM

What a wonderful thing!!

Keep up the good work!


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Alex Lindblad

12/22/2023 7:31 AM

Excellent information. I had no idea this was an issue. I just assumed as a sea turtle, they would just go further out or deeper in the ocean.


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william blanco

12/22/2023 6:50 PM

Interested in donation/ purchase


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Nancy

12/22/2023 9:38 PM

Thank you for saving the ones that you could! Your dedication is admirable. The success of the program is dependent on volunteers!


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Theresa McCauley

12/23/2023 6:05 AM

Thank you for rescuing.the turtles.

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