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INTERVIEW: Danielle Perillo, New York Marine Rescue Center Director Of Administration And Development, On The 23rd Annual Run For The Ridley, Cold Stun Season And More

T.J. Clemente

One of Center's rescues. (Photo: Joe Dlhopolsky)

Danielle Perillo is the Director of Administration and Development for the New York Marine Rescue Center of the New York, located in Riverhead. In an expansive interview with Hamptons.com, we spoke with Perillo about the upcoming 23rd Annual Run to Help Save the Sea Turtles - known as the "5K Run for the Ridley" - and much more. Ridley is short for the Kemp's ridley sea turtle, which is in fact the most critically endangered species. Perillo said the event can be run or walked "anywhere virtually, anytime, anyplace" from Thursday, October 1 through Saturday, October 17, 2020 to benefit the New York Marine Rescue Center.

When asked both about the history of the event and how this year's run will be possible, Perillo replied, "This is the 23rd annual 5K Run for the Ridley! This year we won't be able to host it onsite. We usually run it through the streets of Riverhead and we usually have a designated route that is run every single year, coordinated by the Town of Riverhead for safety. This is the first year we are going virtual, because we weren't sure of the status of the COVID protocols and needed to plan. We wanted to continue with this race because it's been happening for so long and the funds raised goes towards our "cold stunned" (a form of hypothermia) season, which is coming up at the end of October and the beginning of November. This marks our 23rd year! This year no one can actually run our [traditional] course because of the fact that what typically happens is Riverhead shuts down roads for the course."

Perillo continued, "Registered applicants can run the 5K in their neighborhoods or anywhere they can. There is an app that they can download to their phone or their other devices that will keep track and record their time when they finish. If they should decide not to use that app, then they can upload their time to our site, if there is another app that they are using. A lot of people who run frequently and who are preparing for marathons have other apps that they utilize and prefer, so they can use that app and upload their results to our system."

A rescue is released back into the sea. (Photo: Joe Dlhopolsky)

When I asked why is it called the "Ridley," she explained, "The Kemp's ridley is a sea turtle that is the rarest on Long Island and is endangered."

As cold stun season approaches, beach-goers should keep an eye out for the turtles, as Perillo noted, "We get them from all over - both bays and ocean. Last year, our 2019 season, was the biggest season that we ever had. We had a total of 85 cold stunned sea turtles come into our organization and unfortunately some of those arrived deceased, but we did have 32 sea turtles rehabbed and released this past summer. That is the most we have ever seen."

"Sea turtles are unable to migrate to warmer water before a cold snap occurs which cases these individuals to become lethargic and buoyant," Perillo relayed. "This is due to the fact that they are cold-blooded species are not able to regulate their internal temperature. Each winter cold stunned sea turtles are pushed to shore by strong winds and are found throughout Long Island on North facing beaches."

The Run for the Ridley registration fee is $25. She also noted, "The first 150 registered runner applicants will get a t-shirt and then we award sea turtle logo medals to the top three in all the categories."

To register, visit runfortheridley5k.itsyourrace.com. For more information about New York Marine Rescue Center, visit nymarinerescue.org.

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