Virginia Aquarium: Be on the lookout, save a cold-stunned sea turtle

Virginia Beach

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — As the air and water temperatures begin to drop for the winter, the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center is reminding the community to be on the lookout for cold-stunned sea turtles.

If you happen to see a turtle on the beach, the aquarium team says do not put it back in the water — contact the Stranding Response Program immediately and they will come right out and help.

Saturday, the team admitted its first patient, Cookie Cutter. The staff says Cookie Cutter is in critical condition after receiving emergency treatment in the field and at the facility.

Aquarium officials say that sea turtles exposed to water temperatures below 55 degrees can become “lethargic and drift on top of the water or wash ashore, often mistakenly thought to be dead.” This is what is referred to as a “cold-stunned” turtle.

In this state, the turtles are vulnerable to “predators, accidental boat strikes, and even death” due to prolonged exposure to extended periods of cold weather.

The Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center Stranding Response Program is responsible for helping all marine mammals and sea turtles that come ashore in Virginia.

“Whether sick, injured, dead, or entrapped and unable to return to their natural habitats,” the Stranding Program works to evaluate the animals to provide the most humane course of action.

The 24-hour Stranding Response hotline can be reached at 757-385-7575 to report any sea turtle in the region, regardless of its apparent condition. Visit the website for more information.


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