If you’ve ever been to the Outer Banks, chances are you’ve visited the North Carolina Aquarium in Manteo. The NC Aquarium features the S.T.A.R Center. This acronym stands for Sea Turtle Assistance and Rehabilitation. The OBX is home to a variety of sea turtles and super important to them.
THE OUTER BANKS IS A SEA TURTLE HUB
The Outer Banks is one of the most northernmost ranges for sea turtle nesting according to the Network for Endangered Sea Turtles (N.E.S.T). The sea turtles visit the OBX to lay their eggs from easy to mid-summer. The eggs normally hatch around 50-80 days after they’re laid. The five species of sea turtles that are most likely to visit the Outer Banks are loggerhead, green, Kemp’s Ridley, hawksbill, and leatherback.
SEA TURTLES CAN BECOME EASILY HURT
Sea turtles call the Outer Banks home during the summer months, but they also become endangered during this time. Boat propellers, nets, and debris can cause serious harm to sea turtles. In the winter months, the weather change and the sharp drop in temperatures can cause sea turtles to get frost bite on their shells and become cold stunned. This is where the S.T.A.R Center and N.E.S.T comes in. They check the beaches for nests and turtles in distress. Should N.E.S.T volunteers come across and sick or injured sea turtle, they contact the Aquarium and they are transported to the S.T.A.R center for evaluation, rehabilitation, and sometimes even surgery.
RETURNING THE TURTLES TO THE SEA
Once the sea turtles have been rehabilitated and are healthy again, they are returned to the sea! The S.T.A.R center along with N.E.S.T and the NC Aquarium hold sea turtle releases so they can return home safely.
HELPING THE SEA TURTLES
There are so many actions that can be taken in order to help the quality of life for sea turtles and get involved! N.E.S.T has a volunteer application you can fill out. (You can find the application and more information here.) If you’re from out of town and are unable to become a volunteer, you can still do your part. Make sure you pick up your trash and dispose of it properly when you’re on the beach. The main diet of sea turtles are jellyfish. When single use plastic bags or helium balloons get blown into the ocean, sea turtles easily mistake these for jellyfish, causing them to eat them and become sick or even die. We’ve written a blog on how to keep the OBX clean, that in turn, will also help keep sea turtles, safe, happy, and healthy!