Spectators lined Buxton’s lifeguarded beach Thursday evening, May 21, to watch as representatives from the North Carolina Aquarium, National Park Service, and The Network for Endangered Sea Turtles (NEST) sent three rehabilitated sea turtles back to the ocean.
The turtles-two loggerheads and one green-were all found on the soundside of the island this past winter, by Park Service personnel and volunteers, and were all cold-stunned when they were found, meaning that a sudden drop in water temperature had rendered the cold-blooded turtles lifeless and they had floated on the water’s surface, slowly drifting to the shore.
The live turtles were sent to rehabilitation facilities all over the mid-Atlantic coast, where they were treated for cold stunning and, as soon as possible, were either released in warm, southern regions of the coast or taken directly back to the Gulf Stream.
All three turtles-and about 30 more that had been previously released-were rehabilitated at the North Carolina Aquarium’s rehab facility. Their care was funded almost entirely by NEST, and NEST volunteers were there everyday to assist with cleaning, feeding, and other daily maintenance.
For information about NEST and how to become involved in sea turtle conservation on the Outer Banks, please contact Karen Clark, North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission, at 919-707-0235.