NC Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores treating cold stunned turtles

While eastern Carolina may not get as cold as places farther north, as we head closer to winter, any sudden shifts in our temperature make an impact on the animals off our coast, including sea turtles.

Aquarists at the NC Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores say sea turtles are reptiles so they're the temperature of the environment around them, and now that the temperature of the ocean has started to drop, those turtles need help.

At the aquarium a total of 17 cold stunned sea turtles are currently being treated.

Hap Fatzinger, Pine Knoll Shores Aquarium director says, "These animals become almost hypothermic, so their metabolism will slow, they'll become very lethargic and usually they'll just float at the surface, not able to feed not able to warm their body."

Aquarists say from late November through January, sea turtles become cold stunned with any sudden drop in the temperature and they'll usually wash up on beaches and die if intervention isn't quick.

Aquarist John Mauser says, "We're offering food to the turtles so the turtles get fed every morning. Each turtle, the goal is to feed them 2 percent of their body weight in food."

The intensive care also includes putting in eye drops and administering medications to help with pneumonia or other illnesses that the sea turtle may have developed.

Mauser says, "All that is vet coordinated, so the vets come here and let us know what we need to administer to each turtle."

Pine Knoll Shores says if you see a sea turtle washed ashore that you think may be cold stunned, don't touch it. Instead, contact the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission or the North Carolina Sea Turtle Project for assistance.

The aquarium says in some years they've had up to 100 cold stunned sea turtles