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Cold-stunned turtles assist in research

By Tori Shaw
Published On: Feb 12 2013 04:05:23 PM CST
PINE KNOLL SHORES -

The North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores is a turtle resort as 21 sea turtles take it easy.  Living the life of luxury came at a price, and luckily they were rescued near Cape Lookout before it was too late.

"If the sea turtles get too cold, they become lethargic.  They float to the surface.  Then, the water, waves and wind are what brings them onto the shore," said Wendy Cluse, Conservation and Research Coordinator.

The turtles are kept in warm, shallow water and given antibiotics if needed.  The team at the aquarium keeps the turtles until the reptiles are given a clean bill of health.

"We just monitor them.  We give them really good food, keep their water clean and give them a nice place to rest for a while," said Cluse.

The turtles will soon be released into the Gulf Stream but you can track their movement on the internet.  One turtle is equipped with a satellite tracking device.

"It sends a signal out of an antennae that's on the back of the turtle.  The signal is picked up by satellite overhead. If you get a really good position on that tag, it will send the information to a server back down on the ground," said Cluse.

To conserve battery life on the tag, it only turns on when the turtle comes up for air.  Satellite tracking makes it fun for us yet contributes to research.

"Having the satellite tag technology allows researchers to follow them and really understand how they are using different habitats, where they're moving to at different times of the year and how big their habitats are," said Cluse.

The longest track, so far, on a sea turtle from the North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores is 100 days.

Copy and paste this link if you would like to track sea turtles:

http://www.ncaquariums.com/conservationresearch/research-projects