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Cape Lookout National Seashore Staff Come to the Rescue of Cold-Stunned Sea Turtles


A cold snap last week stunned dozens of sea turtles in the waters of Cape Hatteras and Cape Lookout national seashores. Here Cape Lookout staff help move the turtles to warmer recovery areas. NPS photo by Shad Dusseau

Another cold snap has shocked marine life in the Southeast, but so far the cold weather hasn't done damage reminiscent of last January, when more than a few sea turtles and manatees were killed and thousands rescued from the cold waters.

At Cape Canaveral National Seashore, crews last January rescued more than 2,100 sea turtles in and around the park's Mosquito Lagoon, where water temperatures dropped below 40 degrees.

Things haven't gotten that cold this winter, but it's still been cold enough that turtles have been stunned along the North Carolina coast. Most recently, crews at Cape Lookout National Seashore rescued nearly 60 sea turtles that were stunned by last week's cold snap, and other rescues were performed at Cape Hatteras National Seashore just to the north.

According to park personnel, the cold front that dipped down into Florida caused Kemps ridley, loggerhead, and green sea turtles to strand themselves on Cape Lookout shores. Members of the seashore's resource, protection, maintenance, and volunteer staffs coordinated efforts to recover and transport all 57 turtles to safety, park staff reported.

The rescued turtles, several weighing close to 80 pounds, were being turned over to North Carolina Resource Commission Sea Turtle Project to be re-warmed and evaluated for injuries. After the rehabilitation process, the turtles would be released when warmer weather allows.

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