Cape Cod Turtle Stranding Season Escalates

Turtles in treatment by The New England Aquarium

HYANNIS – A rising number of hypothermic turtles are being treated by the New England Aquarium as sea turtle stranding season picks up.

Following a late start due to fluctuating fall temperatures, the Sea Turtle Hospital has checked in 199 turtles; comprised of 109 critically endangered Kemp’s ridley turtles, eight green turtles, and two loggerheads, with life threatening conditions such as pneumonia and dehydration.

Due to rapidly changing water temperatures and wind patterns, many turtles are unable to escape the hook shaped area of the Cape Cod Bay before becoming cold-stunned by the frigid waters.

As they begin to wash up on Cape beaches, staff and volunteers of Massachusetts Audubon Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary comb the coastline to rescue the stranded reptiles.

The first turtles were admitted to the hospital on November 17.

Since then numbers have trended upward, with 41 turtles taken into custody on Saturday, November 27 alone.

“Early in the season, we typically see the smaller Kemp’s ridley and green turtles. The larger loggerhead turtles will start to wash ashore in December, though we saw our first loggerhead of the season on Thanksgiving Day. Every case is unique, and each turtle receives specific care based on its condition,” said Dr. Charles Innis, Director of Animal Health at the aquarium.

The aquatic reptiles receive medical assessment and various treatments over the course of their stay, after which they are brought to secondary rehabilitation centers across the country.

The aquarium is launching a Giving Tuesday fundraiser to help in their efforts. To learn more about the fundraiser, click here.

By, Matthew Tomlinson, NewsCenter

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