MANTEO, N.C. (WVEC) -- As of Friday, 56 sea turtles have been cold-stunned by the recent drop in water temperatures and arrived at the NC Aquarium on Roanoke Island.
The turtles are being treated in the Sea Turtle Assistance and Rehabilitation (STAR) Center. The majority of them are green sea turtles, but there are Kemp's ridley and loggerhead sea turtles as well.
Cold-stunning occurs when water temperatures drop rapidly before sea turtles have a chance to make their way back to warmer waters of the Gulf Stream. Symptoms are hypothermia-like, and the turtles are often found stranded on beaches up and down the Outer Banks.
37 of turtles were recovered in Hatteras and were brought to a Buxton staging facility where they underwent initial evaluation before being transferred to the aquarium.
“Cold-stun season is a busy time for us, but we start preparing early to be ready for the turtles,” said STAR Center Manager Amber White. “Thanks to the help of STAR Center techs, volunteers and other Aquarium staff, the intake process has gone very smoothly.”
Once the stunned turtles make it to the STAR Center they go through an initial intake process where staff check their responsiveness, record their vital signs, preform blood work, check for any trauma, and give them fluids.
The rehabilitation process involves gradually warming the turtles about five degrees a day.
Once the sea turtles display normal swimming ability, are eating regularly and pass a final health screening, they will be released back into the warmer waters of the Gulf Stream or from beaches in the southern U.S. where water temperatures are warmer.
The influx of cold-stun turtles creates an increased need for special supplies, and this year the STAR Center has launched an Amazon.com wish list where donors can buy specific needed items for the center.
For more information on how to donate to the NC Aquarium, click HERE.