First Cold Stun Sea Turtle Checks into Turtle Hospital

He’s here – our first local cold stun of this season. And as usual it’s a little green who didn’t get the memo that he should have started heading out of Dodge and into warmer waters.

On Nov. 14, the Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation received a call from some very alert folks in Surf City who noticed a little turtle struggling in the canal on 9th Street. We’ve been passing along info in this column on how to handle turtles that look like they might be in trouble so they knew exactly what to do – get him out of the water ASAP!

Our staff headed over to pick him up, not knowing what to expect when they got there. Surprisingly this little critter was not in bad shape at all, at least on the outside. He had a barnacle or two and small chip in his carapace but other than that he came in pretty clean, and alert. His admit temp was 68° so he had to spend some time sitting in our “waiting room” in a dry tank while he slowly warmed enough to be put in a tank in Sick Bay where our water temps generally run between 78 - 80°.  Remember that one of our cold stun first responder (that’s you!) rules is to keep the turtle in a cool place until we can get there to pick him up. That’s because a temperature swing of more than 4° either way can readily send a turtle into shock.

So in addition to giving the little guy a good look-see and a soapy bath he needed a name. That job went to our Saturday UNCW interns who submitted three possibilities, and the winner was (drum roll) “Green Bean.” We don’t know the back story, if there is one, other than he is a green. But it’s kind of fun to say – Green Bean.

He’s making what seems to be a swift recovery from what could have been a tragic end for such a little turtle if those folks hadn’t seen him and quickly recognized that he needed help. He’s eating well, almost 7 oz. a day, and that’s one of the keys to getting better. We’re hoping that he doesn’t develop any of the other problems that can show up months later, but right now the future looks rosy for little Green Bean.

Now that we know that the cold weather and cold stuns are both around we’ll keep repeating this quick review of how to handle a turtle that is not moving or appears to be dead – it might just be cold stunned. If it’s a little guy gently pick it up and relocate it to a car, garage or other unheated area of your home. DO NOT try to warm it up – the shock of a quick temperature change could send it into shock. We’ll send our staff out to rescue any and all turtles, big and small when you give us the word. Call one of the following numbers if you suspect you’ve come across a local cold-stunned turtle: Hospital contacts are Terry Meyer @ 910-470-2880 and Jean Beasley @ 910-470-2800 . We will also pick up on the hospital line ( 910-329-0222 ) if the call comes into us early in the day. The state of NC has a stranding hotline that picks up 24/7: 252-241-7367

Our fall tour hours will be coming to an end before you know it but we’re still open Thursdays and Saturdays from 1-4 PM. We will be closed on Thanksgiving but open on Friday the 29th. Our last day for public tours will be Saturday, Dec. 14. Bring your holiday shopping list because our gift shop is loaded with turtle everything.