Help Save Sea Turtles with the Riverhead Foundation

Sea turtle
Photo: Timothy Stirling/123RF

The Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research and Preservation is once again holding Cold Stun Sea Turtle Lectures across the East End, educating people about how to get involved with sea turtle rescue.

The first free lectures are at the Northport Public Library and the Mattituck Public Library this Thursday, August 18 at 7 p.m. The purpose of the lecture is to educate the community about a common condition known as cold stun. This is a condition that is similar to hypothermia that happens when cold-blooded animals are exposed to temperatures under 50 degrees fahrenheit. If not treated, the condition can become fatal to cold-blooded animals, including turtles.

The Riverhead Foundation’s job is to help these sea turtles. The foundation has a 24-hour hotline if someone happens to find a sea animal in distress. Once rescued, the animals are rehabilitated on a case-by-case basis. The foundation does not bring in every animal, but instead allows the animal to roam the beaches and closely monitors them to make sure they actually require assistance.

If animals need to be rehabilitated, they will stay at the foundation’s property until they recover. Once released, the turtles are tracked through satellite tags. Last year, a cold stunned Atlantic green sea turtle named Leafie was treated by the center. The turtle was initially found in Shinnecock Hills in Southampton on December 4, 2015 and was treated for seven months before being released into the wild. A Kemp’s Ridley turtle was also found cold stunned on November 19, 2014, and was treated and then released on July 30, 2015.

Many of the sea animals that the center treats are either threatened or endangered. The center’s mission is to “preserve and protect the marine environment through conservation efforts including education, rehabilitation and research.”

The lectures will take place around our region throughout the coming months, starting with the Northport and Mattituck talks on August 18. A lecture is currently scheduled at the John Jermain Memorial Library in Sag Harbor on Thursday, September 22 at 7 p.m.; the Southold Library on October 4 at 7 p.m.; and the Shelter Island Library on November 4. The final lecture is scheduled for November 19 at 2 p.m. on Fire Island. Prior registration is required by calling 631-369-9840.

If you find a beached sea turtle, call the Riverhead Foundation’s Stranding Hotline at 631-369-9829. Do not approach stranded animals.

The Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research and Preservation is located at 467 East Main Street, Riverhead. To make an appointment and for more information, call 631-369-9840 or visit

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