New Jersey Cautions Beachgoers to Be on Lookout For Beached Sea Turtles This Fall

by Taylor Cunningham
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Winter weather in New Jersey poses a serious threat to sea turtles living along the Atlantic coast. And the Marine Mammal Stranding Center would like the public to help.

According to the organization’s Instagram page, it’s common for “cold-stunned” turtles to wash ashore as the water temperature drops.

Turtles are cold-blooded animals, and they rely on the ocean to regulate their warmth. But during the winter months, the water typically drops to 35 degrees. Temperatures that low can cause hypothermia.—when that happens, the reptiles can’t move. They literally freeze.

Officials Are Asking the Pubic to Help Monitor Beaches For Cold-Stunned Sea Turtles

In a “#TurtleTipTuesday” post, the center shared that saving sea turtles from freezing is “as easy as taking a walk.”

“To help us monitor for these animals, we ask that you visit your local beach to take a walk, keep an eye out for any stranded sea turtles and pick up any trash that you see!” reads the caption.

When people stroll the beach, officials ask that they have the center’s phone number saved because every minute counts when rescuing the endangered species. The post also notes that it can be hard to tell if a cold-stunned sea turtle is dead or alive, so people should always assume they’re alive and make a call.

Also, hypothermic turtles cannot keep their heads above water. So it’s important that people don’t help them back into the ocean because they’ll likely drown.

While beachgoers are taking in the sights, they should also check for turtled buried in the wrack line. And if someone does find one, it’s important they leave it alone.

“Do NOT attempt to warm the turtle up or move it – you may end up doing more harm than good,” the center continues. “Call us immediately for further instructions!”

The Atlantic loggerhead sea turtle is the most common sea turtle in New Jersey. Throughout the world, the species is considered endangered. But in the US, the federal government classifies them as threatened, which still means they’re protected under the endangered species act.

However, the government does consider the Atlantic loggerhead endangered in the Garden State. And various organizations have been working to help rebuild its population. So monitoring beaches is particularly important.

“Thank you for helping us keep an eye out for sea turtles in need of help!” the center concluded.

To reach the Marine Mammal Stranding Center with information or questions, call its hotline at 609-266-0538.