By Karen Sota
The cold-stuns are here. Every year, as soon as the holidays roll around, we know that any number of the turtles that strand along Cape Cod will be headed our way. On December 2nd fifteen defrosted critters reached the finish line at our hospital. It was a long and complicated journey, taking the efforts of a very experienced group of “turtle travel agents.” Initially rescued by the Mass Audubon Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary they were triaged at the New England Aquarium and the National Marine Life Center. After receiving their seat assignments (banana boxes for all) and boarding passes they were flown to North Carolina by Turtles Fly Too, thanks to arrangements made by NOAA Fisheries New England/Mid Atlantic. Once on the ground in Beaufort, NC they headed down the road to CMAST (NC State University Center for Marine Sciences and Technology in Morehead City) where they were checked over by their vets and biologists from NCWRC. Finally, they arrived at our hospital late in the day on Friday. What a trip – literally.
We were ready for them. We advised Snooki, who is still enjoying her vacation in our therapy pool in Sick Bay, that she would be getting a lot of new roomies. Once the banana boxes were opened we found that we had 8 greens and 7 Kemp’s. That’s really an unusual mix for us. In previous years it’s been all Kemp’s, every time. Apparently, this year the greens found something interesting enough in Cape Cod Bay that they decided to party with the Kemp’s until the curtain came down. In any case, all these little guys are adorable, especially tiny “Tulip” who weighs only I kg.
Our dedicated volunteers worked into the night, assigning names to each turtle and settling them into individual tanks where they have already begun their rehabilitation. And these are some of the best Crayola names of the year. We’re wondering if “Screamin’ Green” and “Banana Banana” are going to live up to their handles. Stay tuned for more information on some of the more “colorful” individuals and follow their progress on our social media sites.
We’re officially in cold stun season now so please BOLO for turtles in trouble. If you see a turtle that’s been injured, cold-stunned or stranded for any reason call our Director of Beach Operations, Terry Meyer at: 910-470-2880. If she is not available, you may call the hospital during operating hours: 910-329-0222. We will take the information and send trained volunteers to retrieve the turtle. The State of NC hotline for stranded, sick and injured turtles is 252-241-7367. The state number picks up 24/7. All conservation work for endangered sea turtles at KBSTRRC and on Topsail Island is authorized by the NC Wildlife Resources Commission, ES Permit 22ST05.
You still have a few opportunities to visit us in 2022. We’re open for tours December 8, 14 and 17. Check the Visit page here on our website for times as they vary. And we still require ticket purchases in advance on our site. Our gift shop is jam-packed with all kinds of merchandise for turtle lovers, and of course you can adopt one of our patients for those impossible-to-buy-for relatives and friends. You can shop during those days without taking the tour.