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Scientists on Long Island nursing back to life cold-stunned sea turtles

Cold-stunned sea turtles nursed back to life on Long Island
Cold-stunned sea turtles nursed back to life on Long Island 02:13

RIVERHEAD, N.Y. -- Dozens of cold-stunned sea turtles that should be in warm waters down south are being found on our shores, motionless with no detectable heartbeat.

On Monday, CBS2's Jennifer McLogan spoke with beachgoers who called for help and experts who are rescuing the confused turtles, including some on the critically endangered list.

Families on the East End of Long Island have been mesmerized as sea turtles they discovered stranded and appearing lifeless on beaches have been nursed back to health.

When asked what it's like to come upon a turtle," Allison Deperte of Westhampton Beach Atlantic Marine Conservation Society said, "It's invigorating. It's kind of exhilarating, but then it's a lot of stress, because you're like, oh no, what can I do?"

"We will train you to look for these turtles during a high tide, within the rack line to the water column. Most of these turtles look deceased, but they are actually still alive," added Maxine Montello of the New York Marine Rescue Center.

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Marine officials are dependent on beachgoers to call a state hotline to reach biologists for help -- 631-369-9829.

"We are seeing at this point about 300 animals since about two weeks ago that have washed up, up and down the coast," said Rob DiGiovanni, chief scientist for the Atlantic Marine Conservation Society.

The AMCS in Westhampton Beach just received a plane load of critically ill cold-stunned sea turtles from the New England Aquarium. The endangered Kemp's Ridley and green turtle hard shell varieties join dozens of others from our shores.

"Being able to study this and understand what these changes mean is really a big part of what we are trying to do," DiGiovanni said.

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Save the sea turtles caught too far north when the Atlantic cooled. Scientists measure, scan, tag and track them amid climate changing waters.

At the New York Marine Rescue Center, located within the Long Island Aquarium in Riverhead, it will take months of rehabilitation, slowly introducing warmth, glucose, rest, swimming, and food.

Green sea turtles are vegetarians. McLogan saw one that when fully recovered can live to age 70 and weigh 500 pounds.

"These guys are becoming debilitated floating at the surface, and being brought in by the winds. Our team is going out from Montauk to Cold Spring Harbor, picking up these critical turtles," Montello said.

The animals' lives will be saved and eventually they'll released back at sea.

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