RIVERHEAD, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) –– As the weather has turned colder, dozens of endangered sea turtles have washed up on Long Island’s shores, suffering from what marine researchers call ‘cold stunning.’
“Basically it’s hypothermia,” Kim Durham, of the Foundation for Marine Preservation, said.
Nearly 40 sea turtles have washed up frozen in the last month, Durham said. Staffers managed to nurse 13 back to life, but 25 have died — including four turtles recently found overnight in the Long Island Sound, WLNY TV 10/55’s Long Island Bureau Chief Richard Rose reported.
“Unfortunately, these animals had likely been cast up on the beach last evening,” Durham said. “They were exposed to wind chill factors, so they were deceased on arrival.”
But staffers also celebrated saving one four-pound turtle last night, found almost lifeless along the shores of Mattituck.
“So that was also the miracle, of the fact that that it was alive, is that it was small,” Durham said.
Turtles are cold-blooded, causing their hearts beat rapidly as their body temperatures drop in colder conditions. According to marine experts, the unusually warm December temperatures kept the turtles from migrating south.
The Riverhead Foundation is advising the public to not touch initially touch these turtles if they are found, because it could potentially do more harm.
“We do not want people to start warming these animals up without medical, because if their body temperature is brought up too quickly, they’ll go into thermal shock,” Durham said.
The Riverhead Foundation is asking anyone who finds a turtle to contact them on their 24-hour hotline at (631) 369-9829.
For more information on the Riverhead Foundation, click here.