Rehabilitated Sea Turtles Released from West Dennis Beach

A Kemp’s Ridley sea turtle ready for release Wednesday morning at West Dennis Beach.

WEST DENNIS – New England Aquarium staff released six more rescued and rehabilitated sea turtles back into the wild Wednesday morning at West Dennis Beach.

The two loggerhead and four Kemp’s ridley sea turtles were all cold-stunned and stranded late last fall on various Cape Cod beaches.

These turtles had challenging and chronic conditions that required many months of rehabilitation and care.

“They come in and they are really debilitated and they are not swimming,” said New England Aquarium Senior Biologist Linda Lory.

“We warm them up very slowly. We provide them with antibiotics, any wound care and anything they may need to get better.”

Once the sea turtles start swimming on their own and are up to temperature, around 75 degrees, the turtles begin feeding and gaining weight.

“Once they are swimming on their own, eating on their own and off antibiotics, at that point they are usually examined by a vet and are cleared for release,” Lory said.

Lory said it is import to get the Kemp’s ridley turtles back into the water.

“It is the smallest and most endangered of the sea turtle species,” she said. “They only have two nesting beaches right now and we are trying to make sure they get out and add to the population.”

Lory said statistically, most of the sea turtles do not reach adulthood.

“That’s why every one counts that we can get out,” she said.

All of the turtles released are flipper tagged and microchipped.

“If they do re-strand and if another organization picks it up they will be able to scan that turtle and that number will come up and they will be able to trace it back to us and they’ll find out the whole stranding history,” Lory said.

The larger loggerhead turtles were also equipped with satellite tags that will track their journey away from West Dennis Beach.

Last week, the Aquarium released a 330-pound loggerhead sea turtle, Munchkin, who was the largest ever rescued in New England.

Aquarium staff said Munchkin is doing well and has been swimming south. She is currently southwest of Martha’s Vineyard and east of Block Island, Rhode Island.

Munchkin can be tracked by visiting www.neaq.org/about-us/mission-vision/munchkinsjourney/.

Lory said the biggest threats to sea turtles this time of year are natural predation from sharks, but also human interactions, such as vessel strikes and fishing gear entanglements.

About Brian Merchant

Brian Merchant grew up in Central Massachusetts and now lives in South Dennis on the Cape. He has been part of the news team in the CapeCod.com NewsCenter since the spring of 2014. He studied radio broadcasting at the University of Tennessee.



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