DARE COUNTY, N.C. — The Sea Turtle Assistance and Rehabilitation (STAR) Center at the NC Aquarium on Roanoke Island has admitted 12 new sea turtles within the past week. All of the turtles were suffering from cold-stunning, a condition which is similar to hypothermia.
The aquarium said cold-stunning is caused by dropping water temperatures and renders these aquatic reptiles unable to properly swim.
When the temperatures fall in the fall and winter, volunteers with the Network for Endangered Sea Turtles (NEST) and National Park Service biologists comb the ocean and soundside shorelines for cold-stuns and transport them to the Center for care.
The recovery process for the turtles starts by gradually warming the turtles back up over a few days. Once at a healthy internal body temperature, each turtle is observed during a swim test. A turtle passes this test by exhibiting normal swimming and diving behaviors.
The aquarium said that failing the test can be a sign that the turtle has additional complications other than cold-stunning and could require a longer rehabilitation period.
This holiday season the NC Aquarium on Roanoke Island is asking for donations or supplies. The aquarium has an Amazon wish list that highlights the items staff needs to care for current and incoming turtle patients.