47 cold stunned sea turtles admitted to Topsail rehabilitation facility

Updated: Jan. 26, 2020 at 12:45 PM EST
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TOPSAIL ISLAND, N.C. (WECT) - Iguanas are not the only reptiles that are negatively impacted by sub-freezing temperatures. Don’t forget about the critters that call the North Carolina coast home.

Turtles are cold-blooded animals and their bodies aren’t capable of producing heat to warm them up.

“We have little turtles that are being zapped by the cold and look like they’re dead, but most of the time they are just cold-stunned,” Jean Beasley of The Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue & Rehabilitation Center said.

Forty-seven sea turtles were admitted to the rehab center Friday afternoon to be nursed back to health. That brings the total number of turtles being cared for at the facility to 102, which is the most the center has ever looked after at a given time.

“That’s a wonderful thing for us. It’s a great challenge and opportunity to take these animals who couldn’t survive without help at this point. They are injured, sick and cold-stunned, and at some point they will be released back in the wild. We are thankful to have the opportunity to give them another chance at life,” Beasley said.

The center’s volunteers have found the right places inside the facility for the turtles depending on their individual needs. Over the coming days, volunteers will determine exactly what they can do to nurse them back to health.

“We’ll get to know them, they’ll get to know us. Most of them have a really good chance of recovery and we want to give them that chance,” Beasley said.

Saturday, the turtles will be getting fluids so they can get re-hydrated. The ultimate goal is for the turtles to be nursed back to health, and released back into the ocean.

“If the turtle is in fairly decent shape and doesn’t have any injuries that would need a time to heal, it’s very possible they could be released this summer or even spring. I always like to think positively,” Beasley said.

There is no greater reward for Beasley than released these turtles back into the ocean.

“We all know, there’s no place like home. So we get them down to the water, we wade out with them. There comes that moment where they push away from you and they’re gone. Your heart just accelerates. It’s wonderful to see them go back home," Beasley said.

Beasley says the center will begin monthly releases starting June 3.

She also wants to thank the community for the support given to the rehab center, and says donations are always welcome.

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