Staffers from the National Marine Life Center in Buzzards Bay are readying a group of seven endangered sea turtles for a 24-hour road trip.
Kathy Zagzebski, president and executive director of the National Marine Life Center, said the waters of New England are not yet warm enough for the turtles. “The animals are ready to be released and we don’t want to keep them any longer than necessary,” she said.
The Kemp Ridley turtles, which stranded off Brewster in November, are being transported to Jacksonville, Florida for release in warmer waters. The turtles have been rehabilitated at the center all winter. They suffered from cold stunning, which is a severe form of hypothermia.
The 24-hour trip will begin Sunday morning and the release is scheduled for Monday morning.
The turtles were rescued by Mass Audubon Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary staffers and underwent three weeks of emergency care at the New England Aquarium before their rehabilitation at the National Marine Life Center for the past five months.
For the first several weeks, all the turtles required daily fluid therapy and regular antibiotic injections, in addition to twice daily feedings, vitamins and cleanings.
In preparation for the trip south, the animal care team will apply a water-based ointment to the turtles’ skin and shells and place them in plastic crates padded with towels.
Those interested in the turtles can follow the transport and release on the Marine Life Center’s Facebook page.