Cold temperatures bring cold-stunned sea turtles – OBX Today

Cold-stunned Kemp’s Ridley sea turtle found at Sandy Bay Sound Access. [CHNS photo]

The days of icy temperatures on the Outer Banks can be the cause for sea turtles to be cold-stunned. “When the water drops below 54-50 degrees sea turtles basically become hypothermic and without assistance the continued cold water temperatures will cause the sea turtles to perish,” says the Network for Endangered Sea Turtles, N.E.S.T.

When water temperatures begin to drop and become dangerous to sea turtles, the NC Wildlife Resource Commission, N.E.S.T., and the National Park Service work together, searching the sound and ocean for cold-stunned sea turtles. Upon initial assessment and the completion of paperwork, cold-stunned sea turtles are transported to S.T.A.R. Sea Turtle Assistance and Rehabilitation Center at the NC Aquarium on Roanoke Island for further health assessments and critical rehabilitation.

If you come across a cold-stunned sea turtle, please immediately call one of the numbers below to make a report: 

  • N.E.S.T.’s 24-hour hotline at 252-441-8622
  • Cape Hatteras National Park Service sea turtle hotline: 252-216-6892