Endangered sea turtles left stranded after nor’easter, biologists warn

12/10/2014 5:00 PM |
Daniella Ferina, Riverhead Foundation staff biologist, administering warmed IV fluids Wednesday morning to a sea turtle. (Credit: Riverhead Foundation)

Daniella Ferina, Riverhead Foundation staff biologist, administering warmed IV fluids Wednesday morning to a sea turtle. (Credit: Riverhead Foundation)

After rescuing two endangered sea turtles in just 24 hours, biologists with the Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research and Preservation are asking residents to keep an eye out for cold-stunned sea turtles following Tuesday’s nor’easter.

High tides along the north shore after 3 p.m today could leave turtles stranded on north facing beaches, exposing them to frigid water and air temperatures, according to the organization.

Kimberly Durham, director of the rescue program, said New York State Parks personnel located one of the beached turtles, a Kemp’s ridley, at Wildwood State Park at about 9:20 a.m.

The 8-pound, 1 1/2-foot long turtle had an internal body temperature of about 46 degrees and a heart rate of just four beats-per-minute. A normal heart rate is around 30 to 35, Ms. Durham said.

“We’ve administered warmed IV fluid and its heart rate is slowly climbing,” she said. “What happens with these animals as they become cold stunned, they start shutting down. These reptiles have no method to increase their internal body temperature. As they get colder, the heart rate slows and they stop breathing.”

Biologists are prepping for additional rescues, and individuals are asked to report any turtles found on the beach to the hotline number 369-9829.

A total of 22 sea turtles have been recovered from Long Island beaches since early November. The organization is currently caring for nine of these animals, Ms. Durham said.

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