The days of cool temperatures on the North Carolina Outer Banks have caused some sea turtles to be cold stunned. When the water drops below 54-50 degrees sea turtles basically become hypothermic and without assistance the continued cold water temperatures will cause the sea turtles to perish.
The water temperatures are closely monitored and when those temperatures are close or in the danger zone, Karen Clark of the NC Wildlife Resources Commission issues a stand-by alert to N.E.S.T. (Network for Endangered Sea Turtles) volunteers.
The area most affected by the cold waters are in Hatteras Island. Dedicated Hatteras N.E.S.T. volunteers and NPS National Park Service personnel begin to search the sound and ocean for cold stun sea turtles and when found deliver them to the intake center. N.E.S.T. volunteers make initial assessment and fill out necessary data about each turtle.
After initial assessment and necessary paper work is filled out the cold stunned sea turtles are then transported to the S.T.A.R. Sea Turtle Assistance and Rehabilitation Center at the NC Aquarium for health assessment and to begin rehabilitation.