A cold-tunned sea turtle was rescued off Louse Point Beach in Springs on Tuesday afternoon.
The Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research and Preservation is treating the Atlantic green sea turtle, the second one the rescue foundation has taken in this season.
Residents walking the beach saw the small 6-pound turtle, less than 1 foot long, within the incoming tidal waters, and called the foundation's hotline at about 5 p.m, according to Kimberly Durham, the Rescue Program Director.
The foundation’s medical staff responded and found that his/her initial body temperature was 11 degrees Celsius or about 52 degrees Fahrenheit. A sea turtle’s normal body temperature should be about 23 degrees Celsius or about 73 degrees Fahrenheit.
Although the turtle has been introduced to a larger tank and is adjusting well to its tank mate, its condition is considered guarded. Treatment for hypothermia,is ongoing. Cold stunning, as it is called, is a process where reptiles, which cannot regulate their own temperature, become immobile due to a dramatic decrease in the water temperature.
"When waters reach 50 degrees Fahrenheit, sea turtles start to suffer from cold-stunning. They eventually stop eating and swimming, and are at the mercy of the waves and tides. A 'cold-stunned' sea turtle often appears dead, but may actually be alive," the foundation said in a statement released Wednesday.
“The ability to intervene and save this turtle’s life is due entirely to the actions taken by the beach walkers, who responded to the turtle and called our hotline immediately for instructions. The deaths of these animals are preventable if they are reported," Durham said. "This little one would not have stood a chance if it was left on the beach overnight," she added.
Durham said the foundation is getting ready for what could be a busy season and they are trying to get the message of "Sea a turtle . . . Report a turtle," as immediate emergency care is necessary for their survival.
"It is imperative that communities get involved, patrol their local beaches and report any sea turtles found to the 24-hr Rescue Hotline, (631)369-9829, immediately," the statement continued. "Even if these animals appear dead, proper emergency care may save their lives."
However, the foundation staff warn people who find turtles not to try and warm the animals up as it can lead to shock.
The foundation solicits volunteers to patrol the beaches searching for endangered or threatened species.