A cold-stunned sea turtle on Ocracoke Island. Photo: C. Leinbach

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Since the upcoming Christmas weekend is forecast to be cold, islanders and beach goers are asked to watch for stunned sea turtles.

Although it is expected to get warmer this week, a strong cold front is expected to affect the region late Christmas Eve into Christmas Day, the National Weather Service out of Morehead City/Newport said today.

Strong winds are likely to produce coastal flooding, and possibly severe weather as well. The entire area is in a slight risk of severe thunderstorms for this period. (See graphics below.)

Friday (Christmas) night is expected to dip into the high 20s and into the mid-30s on Saturday.

When the water temperatures get below 50 degrees, Ocracoke and Hatteras Island volunteers who look for turtles both alive and dead.

Frank Welles, the Network for Endangered Sea Turtles (NEST) Hatteras Island coordinator, arranges for pick-up from the ferry at Hatteras and transport to the Sea Turtle Assistance and Rehabilitation (STAR) Center at the North Carolina Aquarium on Roanoke Island.

Amy Thompson, Cape Hatteras National Seashore biotechnician, will take care of patrolling the Ocracoke beach, but islanders are asked to keep their eyes out for stunned turtles along the edges of the island facing the Pamlico Sound.

Similarly, The N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries is reminding the public to report any cold stunned spotted seatrout they may see in North Carolina coastal waters.

During the winter, spotted seatrout move to relatively shallow creeks and rivers, where they can be vulnerable to cold stun events.

Stunned spotted seatrout can be reported at any time to the N.C. Marine Patrol at 1-800-682-2632 or during regular business hours to the division spotted seatrout biologist Tracey Bauer at 252-808-8159 or Tracey.Bauer@ncdenr.gov.

If reporting a spotted seatrout cold stun event, please provide where (the specific location) and when (date and time) the cold stun was observed, along with your contact information.

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