A sudden drop in water temperatures this week has increased the number of cold-stunned sea turtles arriving for care at all three North Carolina aquariums.
As of Wednesday, they had more than 60 turtles in their care, including 40 at the North Carolina Aquarium’s Sea Turtle Assistance and Rehabilitation Center (STAR) on Roanoke Island, 17 at the Pine Knoll Shores and four at the aquarium. at Fort Fisher.
Turtles stunned by the cold exhibit hypothermia-like symptoms, leaving them floating to the surface and stranded on nearby beaches. During these cold stun events, volunteers from the Network for Endangered Sea Turtles (NEST) and the National Park Service locate and transport stranded turtles to the STAR Center.
Treating these turtles requires increased human resources and a wide range of medications, supplements, diagnostic tests and overall operational support.
Once the turtles display normal swimming ability, eat regularly and pass a final health screening, they will be released back into their natural habitat. They successfully treated and released eight turtles this week in the warmer waters of the Gulf Stream, transporting them aboard the Duke Marine Lab vessel.
Species conservation and preservation is a big part of NC Aquariums’ mission and you can help! Your contributions support the urgent care of these turtles. Visit https://ncaquariumsociety.com/livingtreasures/ to donate. Enter promo code: SEA TURTLE.
This story originally appeared on OBXToday.com. Read more local stories here.