MANTEO – A crowd of several hundred onlookers cheered as nine sea turtles rehabilitated at the Sea Turtle Assistance and Rehabilitation (STAR) Center were released back to the ocean Wednesday morning. Five green sea turtles, three Kemp’s ridley, and one loggerhead made their way back home during the release at Coquina Beach, part of the Cape Hatteras National Seashore. Staff and interns from the North Carolina Aquarium on Roanoke Island worked alongside volunteers from the Network for Endangered Sea Turtles (NEST) and the National Park Service (NPS) to ensure a successful release.
The STAR Center at the NC Aquarium on Roanoke Island is dedicated to preserving and protecting sea turtle populations by treating sick and injured turtles recovered and transported to the facility by NEST and NPS. Eight of the turtles released Wednesday had been treated for symptoms related to cold-stunning, a hypothermia-like condition that occurs when water temperatures drop rapidly. The ninth, a loggerhead, was treated for injuries from a shark bite. All were approved for the release by the NC Aquarium’s veterinary staff.
There are five species of sea turtle that call the waters of North Carolina home, and all species of sea turtle worldwide are endangered. Anyone who finds a sea turtle stranded in the water or on land can help increase the odds of survival by calling NEST at (252) 441-8622.
You can also help protect sea turtle populations by filling holes and knocking down sand castles after a day at the beach. Sea turtle hatchlings can become trapped by these obstacles on their way from the nest to the surf, so clearing the way helps their chances at survival.
The NC Aquarium on Roanoke Island is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums and is dedicated to the mission of “Inspiring appreciation and conservation of North Carolina’s aquatic environments.” The aquarium is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day except Thanksgiving and Christmas. More info can be found at www.ncaquariums.com/roanoke-island.