Just like their domesticated cousins, wild animals can suffer when it gets cold.
This week’s dropping temperatures have caused a spike in the number of sea turtles in need of rescue on the Tar Heel coast. The NC Aquarium on Roanoke Island has treated more than 40 sea turtles that were cold-stunned by the recent drop in water temperatures, according to a report by Coastal Review Online (CRO).
The Sea Turtle Assistance and Rehabilitation (STAR) Center has treated 43 sea turtles that have shown hypothermia-like symptoms.
“Cold-stun season is a busy time for us, but we start preparing early to be ready for the turtles,” STAR Center Manager Amber White told CRO. “Thanks to the help of STAR Center techs, volunteers and other Aquarium staff, the intake process has gone very smoothly.”
The turtles were found stranded on beaches up and down the Outer Banks with most being recovered in Hatteras. Officials said the turtles were not able to make it back to the warm waters of the Gulf Stream and were washed ashore.
The turtles are given a checkup for responsiveness when they arrive at the STAR Center. They also undergo a check of their vital signs, have some blood work, given a trauma examination and they get a boost of fluids.
After the sea turtles get a clean bill of health and can swim normally again, they’re released back into warmer waters either in the Gulf Stream or from beaches farther south where the water temperatures are warmer.
The Star Center has established a “Wish List” on Amazon.com for supplies to help with the increased number of sea turtles being treated.
The NC Aquarium also is accepting donations to help the sea turtles.
Pet owners are also reminded to keep an eye on falling temperatures. Bring animals inside or provide them when warm shelter in extreme weather.
Cold Weather Pet-Safety Reminders
▪ Bang on hoods! Warm vehicle engines can be appealing to cats and other animals when temperatures drop. Bang on hoods and check underneath cars before starting the engine during cold temps.
▪ Prevent Poisoning! Antifreeze and other common chemicals smell sweet and can be tempting for animals. Wipe up any spills and supervise pets when they are outdoors.
▪ Wipe and check paws! Salt and other chemicals used to melt snow can be dangerous for pets’ paws. Be sure to wipe down your dog’s feet after walks. Check all paws frequently for common cold weather problems like cracked pads or frostbite.
▪ Collar and Chip! Lost pets may have an even harder time finding their way home in extremely cold temps. The sense of smell may be affected and pets may become disoriented more quickly. Be sure your pet is wearing his or her collar and is microchipped with updated information in case you are separated from him or her for any reason.
▪ See a Vet! A yearly check-up for pets is recommended, and winter is a great time to schedule one if you haven’t already. Making sure your pet is in good health and knowing any health concerns that should be factored into outside time can go a long way in protecting your pet.
▪ Be Proactive! Just like having an emergency preparedness kit, it’s important to think ahead for cold weather preparation. Sweaters for short-haired dogs, blankets for horses, straw, heaters, medications, needed phone numbers, and other materials should be on-hand and ready for use in the event that cold weather strikes or power outages occur.
▪ Educate & Inform! Make sure neighbors, friends, and family also know these cold weather safety tips and are doing their part to keep household and community animals (and people) safe during the bitter cold!