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N.C. Sea Turtles Rehab at Aquarium

A cold-stunned Kemp’s ridley sea turtle at the N.C. Aquarium at Fort Fisher. The animal is one of five sea turtles receiving care at the Aquarium after they were rescued this weekend along the North Carolina coast.

Kure Beach, N.C. — Unusually cold temperatures over the weekend created a dangerous situation for the North Carolina sea turtle population. As a result, the N.C. Aquarium at Fort Fisher made room for five of the 49 cold-stunned sea turtles rescued along the state’s coast Friday to Sunday. Three loggerhead sea turtles, one green sea turtle and one Kemp’s ridley sea turtle arrived at the Aquarium from Cape Lookout on Saturday. Aquarium staff will monitor these animals closely and treat them for injuries and illness. After rehabilitation, they will be released into the warm waters of the Gulfstream. Sea turtles, unable to control their body temperatures, cold-stun when exposed to water below 50 degrees. Turtles become lethargic, experience decreased circulation and heart rates, and may die. They are susceptible to respiratory illness, animal attacks, bacterial and fungal infections, cuts and abrasions. Not typically a sea turtle rehabilitation center, the Aquarium has cared for a total of 13 cold-stunned turtles this year. A group of eight loggerheads rescued in a mass event in New England arrived at the Aquarium Jan. 1. Two of those animals recovered quickly and were released off the N.C. coast on January 11, 2013.
As of Monday, the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission had recorded more than 123 live, cold-stunned rescues since Dec. 23, 2012. Several facilities in the state are currently caring for cold-stunned sea turtles including the Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Center,  the N.C. Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores and the N.C. Aquarium at Roanoke Island. In an effort to help the public better understand sea turtle conservation efforts, the Aquarium at Fort Fisher will offer special behind-the-scenes Sea Turtle Rehab Tours this weekend.
Sea Turtle Rehab Tours were held: Friday, February 1 at 11 a.m., 12 p.m., 1 p.m., and 2 p.m.; Saturday, February 2 at 10:30 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 1 p.m. and 1:30 p.m.; Sunday, February 3 at 11:30 a.m., 12:30 p.m., 2:30 p.m. and 3 p.m. Price was $5 per person, aquarium admission not included.
Anyone who finds a sick, injured or dead sea turtle should contact the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission Sea Turtle Stranding Network at (252) 241-7367.