JACKSONVILLE — Officials are working to help 10 sea turtles stunned by the cold weather along the North Carolina coast.
The juvenile green turtles were found late last week on the beach south of the Cape Lookout Lighthouse, media outlets reported.
Two volunteers at the Cape Lookout National Seashore found the turtles Saturday. Park rangers took the turtles to their office on Harkers Island.
The turtles were given an initial assessment by a veterinarian and were then taken to the Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Center on Topsail Island.
Park biologist Jon Altman says the weekend strandings are the first of the winter.
"When we get a cold spell and water temperatures drop and any turtles left in inshore waters get hypothermic. They are alive, but they are non-responsive; and their temperatures cool so much they can barely function," Altman said.
Jean Beasley of the sea turtle hospital said Monday the hospital was treating 22 turtles suffering from cold stunning.
Beasley encourages people to call when they find turtles on the beach. The animals may still be alive even if they don't appear to be, she said.
"They may be floating on the water or be very lethargic, and they may be up in the marshes or on the beaches," Beasley said.
North Carolina's aquariums have also been helping with the rehabilitation efforts.
The aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores is caring for five loggerheads and two Kemp's ridley turtles that were among more than 200 sea turtles rescued in Massachusetts since November.
"They are all on antibiotics to stave off pneumonia and other potential infections common in cold- stuns," said Wendy Cluse, the aquarium's conservation and research coordinator.
Some of the animals could be released in as little as two weeks, Cluse said.