81 rehabilitated sea turtles released by the U.S. Coast Guard – OBX Today

81 rehabilitated sea turtles released by the U.S. Coast Guard - OBX Today
Crew members prepare to release rehabilitated green and Kemp’s Ridley sea turtle close to the Gulf Stream in January. (Courtesy U.S.C.G. Station Hatteras Inlet)

The North Carolina Aquariums were thrilled recently to release a large number of rehabilitated cold-stunned sea turtles from December and January stranding events thanks to U.S. Coast Guard Stations Hatteras Inlet and Fort Macon.

On Jan. 30, Station Hatteras Inlet released 22 rehabilitated sea turtles from the Sea Turtle Assistance & Rehabilitation (STAR) Center at the N.C. Aquarium on Roanoke Island by Station Hatteras Inlet. These recovered patients were small, juvenile Kemp’s ridley and green species.

On Feb. 12, the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Richard Snyder released 59 turtles as part of their cruise from Station Fort Macon. The healthy turtles were transported to Station Fort Macon thanks to the help of volunteers from the Network for Endangered Sea Turtles (N.E.S.T.) and the Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Center (KBSTRRC) along with biologists from the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission. Rehabilitated turtles from both the N.C. Aquariums and KBSTRRC were released.

The 59 sea turtles released Monday included N.C.’s most common species: loggerhead, green, and Kemp’s ridley. Most of these turtles were brought to rehabilitation centers because of cold-stunning, which occurs when the water temperature drops quickly before the turtles can migrate to warmer water. This condition primarily affects juveniles of the species.

The release made room in the Aquarium facilities as they continue to rehabilitate cold-stunned turtles. Presently the NC Aquariums are caring for 62 cold-stunned patients with 41 at the STAR Center, 15 at the NC Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores and six at the NC Aquarium at Fort Fisher.

Sea turtles strand on North Carolina beaches throughout the year. If you find a stranded sea turtle in North Carolina, call 252-241-7367 or your local stranding response team.