Up to 100 sea turtles now being treated after being cold-stunned this week

Lou Browning of Hatteras Island Wildlife Rehabilitation found 13 cold-stunned sea turtles on Friday. [photo by Hatteras Island Wildlife Rehabilitation]

A drop in temperatures on Thursday and Friday brought in more cold-stunned sea turtles for treatment at the North Carolina Aquarium on Roanoke Island.

As of noon Saturday, 96 turtles had been transported from the Buxton staging site operated by the Network for Endangered Sea Turtles (N.E.S.T.) to the aquarium’s Sea Turtle Assistance and Rehabilitation Center, and more are anticipated in the next few days.

Cold-stunning is a condition which is similar to hypothermia and is caused by dropping water temperatures. The condition renders the turtles unable to swim properly. The majority of the turtles arriving at the aquarium are green sea turtles, but there a few loggerheads as well.

The recovery process begins by gradually warming the turtles back up over the course of a few days. To make sure there is room for the new patients, the STAR Center will be closed to the public beginning Sunday, December 22.

“As we move the turtles around into warmer areas, we’ll need the public spaces in the STAR Center to make them all as comfortable as we can,” said Elizabeth Huber, assistant husbandry curator at the aquarium. “It also gives staff and volunteers room to work and check up on our patients.”

Additional supplies are needed in anticipation of more turtles arriving for treatment. Items can be purchased from the STAR Center’s Amazon.com wish list to help staff care for current and incoming patients.