Skip to main content

Cold-Stunned Turtles Triaged in Westhampton Beach

Mon, 12/14/2020 - 10:14
Jennifer Lopez, a field biologist and volunteer coordinator, helped a turtle into water.
Atlantic Marine Conservation Society Photos

The Atlantic Marine Conservation Society’s Westhampton Beach facility triaged 20 cold-stunned Kemp’s ridley sea turtles, “the smallest and most endangered species of sea turtles in the world,” in a single day, the organization announced last week.

Kate Sampson, the fisheries stranding and disentanglement coordinator at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, organized transport to the facility from the New England Aquarium with Turtles Fly Too. The conservation society said its Specially Trained Animal Response Team picked the hypothermic turtles up at Gabreski Airport and admitted them to come up with a short-term care plan, after which they will be transported to another facility.

Cold-stun season occurs in the Northeast during the fall when water temperatures drop below 50 degrees, the society said. Some turtles become hypothermic or cold stunned when they stay in Mid-Atlantic and Northeast waters too long into the fall.

Initial symptoms include decreased heart rate, decreased respiration, and lethargy, followed by shock, pneumonia, and possibly death, according to the conservation society, a nonprofit research, response, and education organization.

In Cape Cod, the arm of the Cape often blocks turtles from warmer waters offshore and to the south. In late fall this year, volunteers took turtles along the coast back to Mass Audubon, where staff checked them for signs of life.

Between 400 and 900 cold-stunned sea turtles get stranded, alive and deceased, in the Northeast each year. So far in 2020 there have been more than 400 strandings, the society said.

“When we founded Atlantic Marine Conservation Society in 2016, it was always with the idea that we would help other stranding network members and fellow conservation organizations,” Rob DiGiovanni, the organization’s chief scientist, said in a statement. “Nothing we do is just about us. It truly takes a village to make a difference and we pride ourselves on being able to assist in stranding events such as these. Promoting marine conservation through action is absolutely a group effort.”

Rob DiGiovanni, founder and chief scientist of the Atlantic Marine Conservation Society, examined a cold-stunned turtle.

Star Stories



Speaker Disinvited From Israel Rally Over L.G.B.T.Q.+ Comments

At the rally for Israel in Herrick Park on Sunday, a source of controversy was not counterprotesters, who never showed up, but the cancellation of a speaker, Judith Kasen-Windsor, a well-known activist for L.G.B.T.Q.+ issues.

Jul 11, 2024

At East Hampton Rally for Israel, All as One for a Cause

“I’m a Jew. It’s really that simple,” said one woman, when asked why she had joined in a Stand With Israel rally that drew hundreds, including Representative Nick LaLota, to East Hampton over on Sunday.

Jul 11, 2024

Fireworks Over Three Mile Harbor

The annual fireworks display over Three Mile Harbor — a tradition for decades that in more recent years has been overseen by the Clamshell Foundation — is set for this weekend: Saturday if it’s clear, Sunday in case of rain.

Jul 11, 2024

Your support for The East Hampton Star helps us deliver the news, arts, and community information you need. Whether you are an online subscriber, get the paper in the mail, delivered to your door in Manhattan, or are just passing through, every reader counts. We value you for being part of The Star family.

Your subscription to The Star does more than get you great arts, news, sports, and outdoors stories. It makes everything we do possible.