The new STAR Center at the NC Aquarium on Roanoke Island is keeping very busy this winter! We said goodbye to 11 sea turtles on Sunday! Aquarium staff helped get this group down to the North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores, then the Coast Guard released them into the Gulf Stream yesterday. But just as soon as this group left, more were waiting to get checked in….turtles don’t like cold water temperatures resulting in lots of *cold stuns over the winter months on the Outer Banks.
NEST Volunteers and Aquarium staff have been keeping very busy with the remaining 16 patients at the STAR Center….but today wildlife rehabilitator and NEST volunteer Lou Browning of Hatteras Island Wildlife Rehabilitation (with the assistance of Daniel Pullen of Daniel Pullen Photography) rescued a large Loggerhead found in Hatteras. Thanks go out to everyone for all your hard work–let’s hope the holidays keep the turtles out in warmer waters!
*Cold stunning is similar to hypothermia in humans. Sea turtles are cold-blooded reptiles, meaning their body temperature is dictated by the surrounding water, so they are vulnerable to sudden changes in water temperature. As water temperatures drop in the fall, sea turtles are on the move. After spending the spring and summer feeding in our productive waters, they gradually move south or offshore to warmer waters where they spend the winter. If turtles stay too long and water temperatures drop suddenly, as they often do this time of year, the turtles “cold stun.” Often, these cold stunned turtles are then blown onto our beaches by prevailing winds.