The sharp drop in temperatures this week after unusually warm weather has stunned hundreds of turtles along the North Carolina coast. Local media outlets report that more than 200 sea turtles have been taken to the North Carolina aquariums at Pine Knoll Shores and Roanoke Island in recent days.
A rapid drop in temperatures can cause water temperatures in shallow water to drop quickly, stunning turtles and causing a condition similar to hypothermia. Stunned turtles tend to float the surface and go wherever currents take them. Some wash ashore, while others may die or become easy prey for predators. Aquarium officials say the temperatures are expected to rise again in the next few days when many of the turtles should be well enough to be returned to the ocean.
The rescued sea turtles are sent to the Sea Turtle Assistance and Rehabilitation center at the North Carolina Aquarium on Roanoke Island to recover.
If you happen upon a cold-stunned sea turtle, please call the stranding hotline at 252-216-6892.
Below are videos by the North Carolina Aquarium at Roanoke Island: