The South Carolina Aquarium admitted 15 sea turtles for treatment Thursday night.
The turtles, 14 Kemp's Ridleys, the most endangered of the sea turtle species and one green sea turtle, were part of a massive cold-stunning event along the New England coast.
Sea turtles are cold-blooded reptiles that depend on their environment to regulate their body temperature, according to aquarium spokesperson Kate Dittloff. Sea turtles that do not migrate to warmer waters in the fall before coastal water temperatures drop can suffer from hypothermia, also known as cold-stunning, symptoms of which include decreased heart and respiration rates, decreased circulation and lethargy. Those symptoms can also be followed by shock, pneumonia and death.
In the past week, Dittloff says the New England Aquarium in Boston admitted more than 150 cold-stunned sea turtles found along the coast of Massachusetts, prompting the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to reach out to other facilities.
A total of 31 turtles were flown by a donated flight by Charleston locals Margie and Will Dorminy, and the remaining 16 were sent to the Georgia Sea Turtle Center on Jekyll Island.
Dittloff says the turtles will spend the next few months recuperating at the hospital.