Thursday, February 4, 2010

Aquarium Employees Donate Time to Turtles

When severe cold weather hit the Florida area the beaches became inundated with cold-stunned sea turtles. The National Marine Fisheries Service responded to over 4,000 calls of stranded sea turtles in the second week of January. Helping hands were definitely vital to the endeavors, and employees from the NC Aquarium at Fort Fisher were more than willing to help. Although many of the stunned sea turtles survived, some did not. The Protected Resources Branch of the National Marine Fisheries Service in Beaufort, North Carolina assisted in the evaluation of 532 turtles that died as a result of the harsh weather. This sad event presented a unique opportunity to sea turtle researchers who planned to conduct necropsies (animal autopsies) on all the turtles.

The necropsies included size and weight measurements, biological sampling, and full internal assessment of all of the major organ systems. This was a massive undertaking that could not have been completed without the help of countless, dedicated volunteers. The NC Aquarium at Fort Fisher graciously provided several volunteers for the day to help complete as many necropsies as possible. Aquarium employees and volunteers Matt Babineau, Ginger Black, Monica Dudley, Heather Gaunt, Casey Grieshaber, Julie Johnson, and Jamie Neill all volunteered their time, talent and energy to this amazing opportunity. They effectively completed 42 full necropsies the day they visited, which will help the research team learn more about basic sea turtle biology.

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