Dolphin VG 219 had to be moved from the NOAA to NCSU CMAST (North Carolina State University Center for Marine and Science Technology) to make room for 400-500 dead sea turtles that were shipped here from Florida for necropsies.
Approximately 4,000 sea turtles died off the Florida coast over the last month, many of which were likely ‘cold stunned’. Turtles become cold stunned at temperatures less than 50 F, smaller turtles reacting first. They will either float on the surface, unable to move, or strand. The necropsies are important to determine whether there were other contributing factors in the deaths. Scientists here are working on the necropsies and completed 40 yesterday. These sea turtles are mostly Green Turtles (endangered) with some Loggerheads(threatened), a few Ridleys(endangered) and possibly a few Hawksbills(endangered).
Of the turtles that were stunned but still alive, 80% were released. These turtles were taken to a facility nearby and placed in warm salt water to bring their bodies back to temperature. They were then weighed, tagged and released as soon as possible. The releases had to be in water above 50F. It is believed that there are no long term affects from ‘cold stunning’. Each turtle was tagged with a metal tag placed on a front flipper.The tagging will be helpful in further research.
Here is a link to good sea turtle info. http://www.seaturtle.org/
This site has photos of the entire process of rescue, warming, tagging and release.
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