Pine Knoll Shores, NC June 21, 2013 – The North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores will release three sea turtles on Tuesday, June 25, starting at around 6 p.m. at Fort Macon State Park, near the bathhouse area. The public is invited to watch as the turtles are carried down the beach to the water’s edge.
“This is an example of the Aquarium’s commitment to help protect and restore animal populations,” said Aquarium Director Allen Monroe.
The turtles are all young green sea turtles. One arrived at the Aquarium in August 2011 as a hatchling just a few days old. It came from an excavated nest on Bogue Banks. The NC Wildlife Resources Commission (WRC) and its network of volunteers check nests after hatchings for turtles that couldn’t get out of the sand on their own. The Aquarium annually works with WRC to provide care for these weak hatchlings. Some, like this one, become ambassadors for their species in educational programs until they’re released.
The two other turtles to be released are estimated to be between two and three years old. They were rescued off Cape Lookout in April and brought to the Aquarium for care for cold-stunning, a potentially fatal condition. Because these reptiles are cold-blooded, many sea turtles head for warmer water in the winter. Those that stay behind can suffer cold-stunning when water temperatures drop suddenly.
Similar to hypothermia in humans, it causes their heart rates and other functions to slow. They become unable to swim and float helplessly or wash up on shore. In addition to a nutritious diet and rest, cold-stunned turtles receive frequent veterinary exams and medications if needed.
The Aquarium works with the WRC to provide care for cold-stunned turtles every year. The turtles are released as soon as they recover. In winter and spring, this requires boat transportation to the Gulf Stream to get them away from cold water. The warmth of nearshore waters at this time of year allows for the beach release.
Aquarium educators will be on hand at the release to talk about sea turtles and sea turtle conservation efforts. The event coincides with the Aquarium’s summer-long Turtle Tuesdays, featuring all types of turtles. Several Aquarium exhibits and programs feature sea turtles and how people can help them.
The North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores is five miles west of Atlantic Beach at 1 Roosevelt Blvd., Pine Knoll Shores, NC 28512. The Aquarium is open 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. daily. Admission is $8 for ages 13-61; $7 for ages 62 and up; $6 for ages 3-12; no charge for ages 2 and under and North Carolina Aquarium Society members. For more information, see www.ncaquariums.com/pine-knoll-shores or call 252-247-4003.