Rescuers save cold-stunned turtles


OUTER BANKS, NC (WTKR) – A cold snap in North Carolina is stunning dozens of turtles. Nearly one hundred turtles washed ashore, after floating in the frigid waters. Rescuers worked fast to get the turtles to safety.

Turtles were discovered on the southern outer banks surrounded by frost, stopped in their tracks.

Lou Browning with the Hatteras Island Wildlife Rehabilitation said it was important to get the turtles off the shoreside as quickly as possible and into a controlled environment.

Over the past two days, volunteers with the Hatteras Island Wildlife Rehabilitation near Buxton have been feverishly retrieving Green and Kemps ridley turtles cold-stunned by the recent drop in temps.

“When the water temps drop, they are not able to handle that. So essentially their system starts to shut down and they’ll end up floating along the surface and washing into the beaches,” explained Browning.

The non-profit rescued 91 turtles alone on Tuesday.

Chelsea Witherup, a stranding technician with the Virginia Aquarium, knows time is sensitive.

“Usually below 65 is when we start becoming concerned,” explained Witherup.

Witherup says the water is warmer farther north than it used to be, so the turtles follow that warm trend in search of food and ultimately get stuck in a cold snap.

Once the turtles are rescued they are quickly warmed up and taken to a stranding center, like the one in Virginia Beach. They undergo a whole host of tests before hopefully being back in the water between 6 months and a year.

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