JEKLYY ISLAND, Ga. (WSAV) — Hundreds have already signed up to take a cold-stunned plunge into the chilly Atlantic on Jekyll this Saturday. The plunge is in support of sea turtles but there is plenty of room for more.
The cold-stunned plunge gives participants the opportunity to feel a greater connection to the work and mission of the Georgia Sea Turtle Center and to the purpose of protecting sea turtles in our oceans.
During the winter, many sea turtles get caught in hypothermic water temperatures that are below 50 degrees and the event not only allows participants to experience what turtles feels as they plunge into frigid waters, donations raised from the event will assist with their cold-stun rehabilitation and recovery.
“In a drastic drop like that, it’s called cold stunning, or the reptile version of hypothermia,” said Rachel Overmeyer, Rehabilitation Program Manager at the Georgia Sea Turtle Center. “The same thing for humans, like when they get too cold quickly all of their heat moves to the center of their body to keep their vital organs functioning.”
The Georgia Department of Natural Resources typically get cold stunned sea turtles every year from Georgia and North Florida areas.
“Initially, depending on where they’re coming from, if they’re from Georgia or Florida, the most important thing is to know their body temperature, and then we want to gently raise their body temperature,” Overmeyer said.
She continued, “If we raise it too quick, it can create a lot of physiological changes, like in their blood, and cause them to be even sicker, so you know, cause them a lot of stress and shock. So, we usually raise their temperature 5 degrees per day, that’s the most important thing. Then we’ll also so supportive care, so blood work, radiographs, diagnostics, wound management if there’s any wounds.”
Regarding why people should care about cold stunned sea turtles Overmeyer said, “We use them as an indicator of health in the ocean. So, if your sea turtles aren’t doing well, that means something else further down in the food chain is not going well in the ocean.”
According to Kathryn Hearn, Marketing Communications Manager with Jekyll Island Authority, more people signed up this year than last year to plunge into cold waters at this year’s Cold-Stunned Plunge.
“We have over 300 participants already registered and that surpasses the amount of participants we had the year before,” Hearn said. “We also do take day of registration. So, online registration is closed tomorrow and then if you wake up on the 26th and decide, you know, I really want to go jump in the Atlantic Ocean, you can register day of.”
The location of the event is at 110 Ocean Way. The event hours are from 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. The plunge takes place promptly at 9:30 a.m. with an airhorn start.
All ages are welcome to participate, but children 12 years and under must be accompanied by an adult on the beach. Participants will receive a commemorative t-shirt and can enjoy photo ops with Scute C. Turtle, the official mascot of the Georgia Sea Turtle Center.