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January 2022

Winter is here, and with it come cold-stunned sea turtles. Cold-stunning in sea turtles usually happens between December and February in North Carolina. Sudden drops in water temperature in the ocean and sounds cause shock to sea turtles and induces a hypothermic-like state. This abrupt

shock can leave many of them unable to swim. When the cold winter winds blow, stunned sea turtles can become stranded and unable to recover.

This is where the NC Aquariums step in. Throughout the winter, the aquariums play a role in the process of rescuing, rehabilitating, and releasing sea turtles who are affected by the cold. The number of turtles brought in each year varies from

as few as 35 to as many as over 600 turtles. At Roanoke Island, turtles are typically found and rescued from Avon to Ocracoke on the sound side, with a few coming from the ocean side. Pine Knoll Shores cares for turtles found in area waters and some that are flown in all the way from New England!

After being rescued and brought to one of the aquariums, a turtle’s rehabilitation process begins. Staff assesses each turtle’s conditions, then creates a treatment plan. Some animals need medication,

some need to slowly warm back up, and others need more extensive treatments. This care care can last two weeks to six months.

Once the sea turtles are healthy enough to thrive on their own, they’re released with the help of various partners. Many turtles are taken by boat back to the warm waters of the Gulf Stream. Sea turtles play an important role in our aquatic ecosystem, and helping them is part of the North Carolina Aquariums' conservation commitment.

Looking to get out and about? How about a tour of the other side of the aquarium? Pine Knoll Shores and Roanoke Island offer behind-the-scenes tours and unique insights into what it’s like to take care of animals. Get a glimpse of food prep

areas, sea turtle rehabs, and more. Check out details below.

Want to give back to your community? At Roanoke Island, the annual Ton of Love food drive benefits the Roanoke Island Food Pantry, from Jan. 14 to Feb. 14. Guests who bring a grocery bag full of nonperishable food

items can receive one free admission per reservation.

At Pine Knoll Shores, help Martha's Mission Cupboard by bringing a canned or nonperishable, nonexpired food item. You can also help the Carteret County Humane Society with a gift of pet food or pet items. The last day to donate is Jan. 17.

All three NC Aquariums — Fort Fisher, Pine Knoll Shores and Roanoke Island — will offer visitors half-off regular admission rates on Martin Luther King Jr Day, Jan. 17, 2022. If you visit the aquariums on this day, be sure to reserve your tickets online ahead of time, as sellouts do happen. The special rate will not apply to already reduced rates or promotional pricing.


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