Record Loggerhead, Large Numbers of Turtles Wash Up on Cape Beaches

COURTESY OF MICHAEL SPRAGUE/AUDUBON

PHOTOS COURTESY OF MICHAEL SPRAGUE/AUDUBON

EASTHAM – Record numbers of cold stunned turtles have been washing up on beaches along Cape Cod Bay this week. Among them was the largest loggerhead turtle ever recorded in Massachusetts.

The loggerhead was 57 centimeters long which is a mature adult, so over 30 years old. “Unfortunately, our scale doesn’t go high enough but it was well over 200 pounds in all estimation,” according to Wellfleet Audubon Field Assistant Michael Sprague.

About 120 turtles were found Thursday, the second day in which turtle strandings reached record numbers this season, Sprague said.

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Over 300 turtles have been recovered since Tuesday night with mot of the strandings occurring in Eastham and Truro.

Sprague said facilities to treat the turtles are full and efforts are being made to stabilize the turtles.

“We’ve pretty much maxing our capacities and the capacities of all the rehab centers to handle the animals, so right now it’s basically triaging them and stabilizing them until we can get more veterinary help to them,” he said.

A turtle is being transported to an off-Cape marine animal hospital.

A turtle is being transported to an off-Cape marine animal hospital.

Ironically, the record numbers of strandings could be a good sign for the overall health of turtle populations.

He said the record numbers could be a sign that Kemp’s ridley turtle populations are growing.

“Hopefully, it’s a sign that their populations are doing a lot better. No one really knows what drives the turtles to be up here, especially the Kemp’s ridleys to get pushed outside of the Gulf of Mexico,” he said.