More than 120 sea turtles ‘stunned’ during North Carolina cold snap

Cold-stunned sea turtle in Jan. 2020 in the Outer Banks. (Photo: Cape Hatteras National Seashore)

ROANOKE ISLAND, NC (AP) — Rapidly dipping ocean temperatures have been stunning sea turtles off North Carolina’s Outer Banks, causing them to float to the surface of the chilly waters and wash ashore in critical condition.

The Virginian-Pilot reports that 120 sea turtles were brought to the North Carolina Aquarium on Roanoke Island by Wednesday.

Teams there are treating the turtles so they can be returned to the sea.

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Wildlife educator Karen Clark says the cold-blooded creatures can become temporarily immobile when water temperatures suddenly drop below 55 degrees.

National Park Service biological technician William Thompson said water temperatures hovered around 55 degrees this week before dropping to 40.