Four species of sea turtles can often be found in New York’s marine waters—green, loggerhead, leatherback, and Kemp’s Ridley—all of which are threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act.
Around this time of year, sea turtles begin to leave the New York area and migrate south. In recent years, they’ve been staying here longer, which could be due to warmer annual temperatures as a result of climate change. As temperatures start dropping dramatically, turtles may experience a sudden change in water temperature. This can cause them to become cold stunned, a hypothermic condition that results in a lethargic state.
If you see a sea turtle on the beach, please immediately call the New York State Marine Mammal and Sea Turtle Stranding Hotline (24-hours) at 631-369-9829 and provide detailed information about the location (include GPS coordinates, if possible) and condition of the animal. It’s extremely important that you do not approach or handle the animal, as they can be further stressed. Cold-stunned sea turtles need professional care and rehabilitation from trained responders. The Atlantic Marine Conservation Society and New York Marine Rescue Center work in partnership to monitor the stranding hotline and carry out appropriate response plans.