By Karen Sota
Our hospital has been unusually quiet over the past few months, with the only admissions being the thirteen cold-stunned Kemp’s that stranded in New England late last year. Under our expert care they quickly recovered and were moved into Sea Turtle Bay where they have been enjoying spacious accommodations and a complimentary breakfast while waiting for their ride to warmer off-shore waters.
Standing in a Sick Bay that was so empty it echoed we kept asking ourselves “but where are OUR cold stuns?” By “our” we mean the turtles from North Carolina waters that just didn’t get the message that the weather was about to turn on them. Last week we got our answer.
Seven cold-stunned victims that had initially been evaluated at CMAST (Center for Marine Sciences and Technology in Morehead City) arrived at our door. Thankfully, we have some big doors because one of our new patients tipped the scales at over two-hundred pounds, and another one at over one-hundred pounds! As you’ve probably guessed by now, they’re both loggerheads. On the ride down with them were four small greens and one young Kemp’s. And since they were all still on the frosty side they were settled in one of our “cold rooms” to begin their gradual warm-up. By the time you read this they will have been moved into Sick Bay to begin their care and treatment, including that all-important first meal.
But they needed names, and thanks to our turtle-loving public who voted on our website for the “theme” for turtles coming in this year we have a lengthy list of (drum roll) Crayola crayon colors. And I mean a long list. Crayola has been remarkably busy naming crayons since the big box of sixty-four (with the built-in sharpener!) back in the 50’s. And I’m guessing that at least some of you reading this are smiling at the memory of getting one of those for your very own!
So, without further delay, introducing our very own 2022 Carolina cold-stuns: loggerheads Sepia and Cotton Candy; Kemp’s Fern and greens Sea Glass, Oatmeal, Cool Mint and Scarlet. With the Carolina weather finally acting more like winter it won’t be too long before we add more colors to our box.
THE HOSPITAL IS NOW CLOSED FOR TOURS. We are closed for public tours until spring of 2022. Winter is a busy season for us – cold stun season. It’s the time of year when our staff puts in the really long days, coming in and leaving in the dark. But our online gift shop and adoption center stays open 24/7 so you can order our exclusive hospital merchandise and adopt your favorite turtle(s) with a visit to our website: www.seaturtlehospital.org. Your support through gift shop purchases and adoptions goes directly to the care of our patients. And thanks to all of our supporters for a spectacular 2021! And wait until you see what we have planned for our gift shop in 2022 – stay tuned.
Cold stun season is officially here. Yes, officially, with the arrival of our seven new patients. Please be our extra eyes for spotting for any turtle in distress. The smaller ones are especially vulnerable as they have less fat to protect them and not a lot of experience with cold snaps. Don’t assume a turtle is beyond help because it can’t move. They are stunned motionless. If you spot anything unusual please 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 we will meet you to retrieve the turtle that will then be brought to us for followup. The State of NC hotline for stranded, sick, and injured turtles is 252-241-7367. The state number picks up 24/7. Please note that all our work with sea turtles, at the hospital and on the beach, is authorized by the NC Wildlife Resources Commission, ES Permit 22ST05.