The Marine Mammal Stranding Center is asking the public to keep an eye out for cold-stunned green turtles that have been washing up on Long Beach Island. The turtles are about the size of a dinner plate and weigh a few pounds. Twelve have already been saved by quick-acting residents who have seen them either floating in the water or inert on the shore.
“What happens is the quick change in water temperature stuns them, and if they can’t get their temperature above 50 degrees they die,” explained Bob Schoelkopf, director of the Marine Mammal Stranding Center in Brigantine, whose facility responds to endangered marine life along the entire state’s coastline.
“Most of the turtles have been feeding in the back bays and due to the high tides we have had recently, many will be washed up on the meadows or you may see them floating on the water. They can also be on the ocean side if the tides have brought them around,” said Schoelkopf.
“Time is a factor. It’s important that we get to them right away.”
Anyone who sees a green sea turtle should call the stranding center at 609-266-0538 and someone will respond, said Schoelkopf. The center will pick up these turtles in distress and transport them to the Turtle Rescue at Turtle Back Zoo in West Orange. Once a number of turtles are rehabilitated, the stranding center will take them south to warmer waters and release them to the wild.
Shore residents are encouraged to call the stranding center even if a green turtle they find seems to be dead. —P.J.