Turtle Strandings Continue, Wellfleet Audubon Responds

COURTESY OF MICHAEL SPRAGUE/WELLFLEET AUDUBON A turtle who was found stranded along the shores of Cape Cod Bay is driven off Cape for rehabilitation.

COURTESY OF MICHAEL SPRAGUE/WELLFLEET AUDUBON
A turtle who was found stranded along the shores of Cape Cod Bay is driven off Cape for rehabilitation.

WELLFLEET – Turtle stranding numbers in Cape Cod Bay are diminishing now after hundreds of turtles, mostly Kemp’s Ridley turtles, stranded over the past month.

In the two week period before Thanksgiving, the Massachusetts Audubon’s Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary, handled more than 1,000 strandings on the Cape’s bay beaches from Barnstable to Wellfleet.

In addition to Kemp’s Ridley turtles, there were a number of loggerheads, including the largest one ever stranded in Massachusetts.

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Wellfleet Audubon’s director Robert Prescott said the large number of strandings meant that the Wellfleet ability to filled to capacity with turtles needing rehabilitation. Many were flown south on Coast Guard planes to aquariums who would rehabilitate the turtles and then release then in the warm waters off the coast of Florida.

Prescott said it can take six weeks to eight months to rehabilitate a turtle so that it can be returned to the wild.

The rehabilitation, Prescott said, involves keeping the turtles at 50 degrees in order to adapt to the change in temperature.