A rescued stunned sea turtle. NPS photo

Those wishing to volunteer this winter in rescuing cold-stunned and stranded sea turtles will have the opportunity to get training on Friday, Nov. 17, in the Ocracoke Volunteer Fire Department conference room.

Volunteers help Cape Hatteras National Seashore staff patrol the beach and sound for cold-stunned turtles over the winter when the water is cold.

This year, Amy Thompson, the NPS Biological Science Technician for Ocracoke, Karen Clark, with the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission, Marina Doshkov, with the N.C. Aquarium in Manteo, and Frank Welles of NEST, will do training in both a sea turtle stranding and a marine mammal response.​

Those who have received training in the past are encouraged to attend as a refresher and hear of any updates in procedures.

Volunteers can do either or both sessions as follows:

  • 1 to 2:30 p.m. – Live Marine Mammal Stranding Response Training
  • 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. – Sea Turtle Stranding & Patrol Training

All are invited to participate in this NPS volunteer opportunity. For questions, call Thompson at 252-305-1045.

Cold stunning is a condition similar to hypothermia that is caused by dropping water temperatures. Sea turtles are cold-blooded reptiles that depend on the temperature of their surroundings to maintain their body temperature.

During a cold snap when temperatures decline below 50 degrees, they become lethargic, experiencing decreased circulation and slowing of other body functions that causes them to float to the surface. At that time, winds and currents may push them onto land.

A cold-stunned turtle may appear dead but might not be. If found alive, they can be transported to the Sea Turtle Assistance and Rehabilitation (STAR) Center at the N.C. Aquarium on Roanoke Island.

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