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Students Raise Awareness, Funds for Cold Stunned Turtles

Monies Donated to NY Marine Rescue in Riverhead

students and teacher    student holding tablet

Last winter saw a record number of cold stunned turtles. To teach students about this phenomena, where turtles risk death, injury, and illness from being in waters below 50 degrees, Westhampton Beach Learning Center Teacher Kim Perry engaged her class in an interactive lesson. Students worked in person and remotely to answer questions and draw pictures electronically as a class. 

Since they are reptiles, cold stunning occurs when sea turtles become lethargic due to a decrease in heart rate and circulation from being in cold waters. They float listlessly atop the water and can get hit and injured by boats, and can also suffer from pneumonia, shock, frostbite, and hypothermia. Many wash ashore dead. Turtles have been travelling further north as water temperatures rise due to global warming and they don’t migrate south when the season changes. This has led to a growing number of cold stunned cases.

 Perry also educated her students about the work performed by New York Marine Rescue Center in Riverhead, which rehabilitates cold stunned turtles before releasing them back into the wild. Last year, just before the quarantine, Perry’s class created posters and hung them around their campus with facts about cold stunned turtles, as well as the number for the rescue center hotline. The class also held a fundraiser to benefit the center. Staff members contributed favorite recipes and students compiled them into a school cookbook, which was sold to raise money. The class raised $500 and was honored with a certificate for their contributions.

 Said Perry, “The catastrophic effects of global warming are an important lesson, as is the good work performed by this local organization. Creating and running an information campaign and school fundraiser are also initiatives that make our students feel empowered and proud.”