Last year, three sea turtles died after washing up on the Oregon coast.
This winter, the Oregon Coast Aquarium is asking residents to help keep an eye out for the stranded endangered animals so that they can be rehabilitated.
A release from the aquarium notes that storms and shifting ocean conditions cause sea turtles to get stuck in cold northern currents as they are trying to migrate south.
"This can lead to dehydration, malnutrition and hypothermia as the animal physiologically shuts down," Jim Burke, director of animal husbandry at the Oregon Coast Aquarium says. "They then often become victim to the currents and waves, which can bring them crashing onto our beaches."
Last year, three turtles were found on the Oregon coast. One was deceased upon discovery and the other two did not survive despite rehabilitation efforts. Pacific green turtles and olive ridely sea turtles, the release notes, are the two most likely to end up on Oregon shores. Both are classified as endangered species.
The Oregon Coast Aquarium and Seattle Aquarium are the only two facilities in the northwestern U.S. authorized by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to rehabilitate sea turtles.
Sally Compton, a spokesperson for the aquarium, tells WW that turtles have ended up along state coastlines in higher numbers in the last couple years.
"Sea turtles are not able to regulate their internal temperature," Compton says. "They get pneumonia and start moving slowly and then get caught in a wave break."
Compton adds that it's difficult to say how much climate change is to blame for the sea turtle deaths, but that it could be a factor in disrupted migration patterns.
"We can say that if storms get more severe or if climate change causes a shift in ocean patterns, that will affect the populations that are so depend on water temperature and current," she says. "Because these turtles are endangered, we want to provide care. If we get the chance to rehabilitate and release them it will only help wild breeding populations."