East End: New York Marine Rescue Center
This week, News 12's Doug Geed visits the New York Marine Rescue Center, which rehabilitates turtles and other animals found in our waters.
The turtles, which by now should be somewhere off the Carolinas, got trapped in Long Island's cold waters.
"Our waters stayed warm so long, these turtles stayed here. They didn't get the cue to migrate and once they realize the temperature is dropping, it's too late," says Maxine Montello, of the New York Marine Rescue Center.
In cold water, sea turtles get fatigued and eventually are unable to swim. They're then at the mercy of the tides and often wash up on Long Island beaches.
On her day off, rescue center staff member Kristina Hansen walked the beaches looking for turtles and came across two. Recently the center took in 10 turtles in just one day. In addition to being cold-stunned, some have other issues.
Chestnut is a permanent resident at the center because she'd never survive back in the wild. Ten years ago, her shell was severely injured by a boat propeller. Rehabilitators made a special vest just so she's able to swim in her tank. Many animals die. And their care is expensive - about $10,000 to $11,000.
The center is entirely nonprofit - and funds are especially low because of the pandemic.
But there's a reason workers are so dedicated. Staff and volunteers say there's nothing like the thrill of seeing an animal going back into the water.