N.C. Aquariums take in nearly 450 rescued sea turtles in record event
January 12, 2016
The sudden arrival of winter weather this week along the North Carolina coast led to a record number of cold-stunned sea turtles needing rescue and rehabilitation. In just a two-day period, more than 600 turtles were caught in frigid water temperatures near shore, unable to swim due to a hypothermia-like response.
The North Carolina Aquariums regularly provide care for weak or injured turtles. From this cold-stunning event alone, the Aquariums have taken in nearly 450 turtles in need of help.
“Conservation is a cornerstone of our mission,” said North Carolina Aquariums Director David Griffin. “In this event, the three Aquariums and the Pier were ready and willing to lend help in the care of these turtles.”
The effort to rescue and rehabilitate sea turtles is led by the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission, which has collaborated with a number of federal, state and private organizations in this week’s effort, including: North Carolina Aquarium on Roanoke Island, Jennette’s Pier, North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores, North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher, Center for Marine Sciences and Technology, North Carolina State University College of Veterinary Medicine, Cape Lookout National Seashore, Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Center, Cape Hatteras National Seashore, Hatteras Island Wildlife Rehabilitation, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and National Marine Fisheries Service.
Many turtles have made a quick recovery, but some need additional time and care.
Aquariums’ staff and veterinary teams perform regular health checks on the turtles and, prior to release, will place a microchip tag in each one.
In partnership with the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources and the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, about 200 of the turtles will be transported south for a beach release tomorrow. The rest of the turtles will remain in the care of the Aquariums and the Turtle Hospital until they’re cleared for release, which could take a few weeks.
Most of the rescued turtles are juvenile green sea turtles, but there are a few loggerhead and Kemp’s ridley turtles, as well. Five out of the seven sea turtle species worldwide can be found along the coast of North Carolina.