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Cold temperatures causing sea turtles to wash up along NC coast

Posted January 8

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— A recent cold snap is taking a toll on sea turtles along the North Carolina coast. The drop in temperature caused hundreds to wash up on Pine Knoll Shores in Carteret County on Wednesday.

Seven sea turtles from Carteret County arrived at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences on Friday, where they’ll go through rehabilitation.

Sea turtles are accustomed to high winds, but experts said the recent temperature drop stunned them.

“Those organs get cold and everything starts to shut down, and basically the animals float,” said Michele Lamping, aquarist at Pine Knoll Shores Aquarium.

Lamping said once the sea turtles experience hypothermia-like symptoms in water below 50 degrees, it raises the opportunity for predators to pick them off.

“All the sea turtles are threatened or endangered species and these guys are juveniles,” Lamping said. “They’re just starting their life and we want to see them get to adulthood and reproduce; that’s our ultimate goal.”

Officials said dozens have already been returned to the water, but many will continue to be warmed up and rehabilitated before being released into the wild.

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