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Estonia, a Kemp’s Ridley sea turtle, was found on Fire Island. She was successfully rehabilitated and released in 2014. (Credit: The Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research and Preservation)
Estonia, a Kemp’s Ridley sea turtle, was found on Fire Island. She was successfully rehabilitated and released in 2014.  (Credit: The Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research and Preservation)

October is Sea Turtle Awareness Month at The Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research and Preservation.

The Riverhead Foundation is a 501 (c) (3) not for profit organization that also operates the New York State Marine Mammal and Sea Turtle Rescue Program.

Throughout October, the foundation will host lectures to educate the public about the dangers of cold stun, post trivia questions about sea turtles and highlight its rescue success stories.

This time of year, sea turtles across Long Island begin to succumb to hypothermia, also known as “cold stunning.” They stop eating and swimming and are at the mercy of the waves. This condition makes it impossible for them to escape the cold water and migrate to warmer climates. The Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research and Preservation begins to receive many of its sea turtle rescue calls toward the end of October, as well as through the winter months.

Sea turtles are protected under the Endangered Species Act. Four sea turtle species —the Atlantic, the Kemp’s Ridley, the Leatherback and the Loggerhead — are known to frequent Long Island waters. All of them are either endangered or threatened.

The foundation will give a lecture Tuesday, Oct. 13, at 7 p.m. at Southold Free Library, 53705 Main Road, Route 25, in Southold. It will explain the dangers of cold stun and instruct the public on how they can help if they should find a sea turtle washed up on the beach. The event is free but pre-registration is required; call 631-369-9840.

“The North Fork is one of the areas that we really do need the most volunteers, especially along the Sound,” said Rachel Bosworth, public information officer for the foundation.  “When people attend one of our lectures they can register to become a beach patrol volunteer.”

If you can’t patrol the beach, there are other ways to help sea turtles.

On Saturday, Oct. 24, the foundation will host its 18th annual 5K Run for the Ridley. All proceeds will benefit the organization’s sea turtle rescue and rehabilitation program.

“The Kemp’s Ridley sea turtle is one of the most endangered species of sea turtle,” explained Ms. Bosworth. “It’s the species that we do find most often.”

Early registration is $20 for applications postmarked on or before Oct. 17.  Participants can register by calling 631-369-9840 or visiting Riverheadfoundation.org. Late registration, Oct. 18-23, is $25. Race day registration is $30.

On race day, check-in will run from 8 to 9:30 a.m. at the easternmost end of Riverhead’s municipal parking lot, adjacent to the Peconic River behind East Main Street. The race itself begins at 10 a.m.

You can also donate directly to the Riverhead Foundation’s Marine Mammal and Sea Turtle Rescue Program, or get more information, at Riverheadfoundation.org

Foundation volunteers attend to a juvenile Atlantic green sea turtle that became entrapped in netting. (Credit: The Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research and Preservation)
Foundation volunteers attend to a juvenile Atlantic green sea turtle that became entrapped in netting. (Credit: The Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research and Preservation)
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