Every fall for the past many years the Sea Turtle Beach Patrol runs a beach patrol program from November 1 to January 31 where they ask volunteers to walk a beach of their choosing once a week looking for cold-stunned hard-shelled sea turtles. “Cold-stunning” is basically hypothermia for sea turtles, which occurs when the water they are in drops to and below 10degrees. Most years they find one or two either dead or almost dead juvenile Green or Kemp Ridley’s sea turtles. By consider the warming oceans and the experiences of our neighbours to the south, they are expecting these stranding events to become more common. Massachusetts for example, has gone from 0 to over 800 cold-stunned turtles in the past 20 years. These turtles, when found alive, require professional warming and monitoring, and sometimes transportation to a rehabilitation Centre. They can’t be put back into the cold ocean.
Historically, the majority of our cold-stunned sea turtles have been found along the Nova Scotia side of the Bay of Fundy, where they have very few beach patrol volunteers. Their goal for this year is to increase their volunteer presence and hopefully get a better idea overall of the conditions that are most likely to bring the sea turtles ashore. So if any of our NSWFS members happen to be walking the shoreline for flora, you may also want to keep a look out for sea turtles.
The Sea Turtle Beach Patrol is hosting a zoom orientation for new members on Oct 24 at 7pm. Interested volunteers can contact email@example.com for more information.