ATLANTIC BEACH, N.C. (WNCT) – We’re following up with the hundreds of sea turtles cold-stunned by our recent freezing temperatures.
WNCT’s Jacqueline Matter joined the Coast Guard and aquarium officials Friday as they returned some of those sea turtles back to sea.
The North Carolina Aquariums and Wildlife Resources Commission released nearly 100 sea turtles back to the ocean, they were found in Cape Cod and along the North Carolina Coast just weeks ago.
However, after intensive care, which included warming them up to room temperature and checking for any health concerns, the turtles were released.
“These guys have cleared and are back to normal and doing great, so basically these guys don’t have any problems, they have no lasting lung infections, no pneumonia, all their physical injuries are good and they’re ready to go back to warm water,” said Michele Lamping an Aquarist at Pine Knoll Shores Aquarium.
The U.S. Coast Guard assisted in taking the turtles offshore to warmer waters.
They traveled about 30 miles off shore to waters sustainable for the turtles’ survival.
“They’re going south of Cape Lookout so they’re just looking for upper sixties and seventy degree temperatures so when they hit that they’ll get them off shore so that way these guys can go back to wherever they want to go,” said Lamping.
Adults, children aquarium officials and the Coast Guard all took part in releasing the turtles.
For the youngest member of the ship, she says her favorite turtle was the more than 100 pound, 20-year-old Loggerhead turtle.
“I liked it, I liked the biggest one!,” said Ariel Beundia.
While many of the original cold stunned turtles are back in their natural habitat, there are more left that still haven’t met the requirements to be released.
“We still have several turtles back at all three of our aquariums that haven’t quite cleared yet and are still not healthy that we’re working on rehabbing,” said Lamping.
Aquarium officials say you can do your part to help out sea turtles and ocean wildlife.
If you notice any washed up turtles call the aquarium or Wildlife Rescue Commission.