Another Busy Turtle Rescue Season for Aquarium

Adobo, an endangered loggerhead sea turtle, was released into waters off Cape Cod in late July. Photo courtesy New England Aquarium.

WELLFLEET – It was another busy turtle rescue season on Cape Cod.

Sea Turtle Hospital Director Adam Kennedy said this season saw 505 live intakes, the 3rd largest season for the Quincy-based facility.

“Every single one of these turtles that come in we want back out in the wild. That’s our main goal, to get these turtles back out there and help increase the population,” Kennedy said in a recent Sunday Journal interview.

The turtles arrive to the rehab center from the Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary. Team members and volunteers with Mass Audubon locate the cold-stunned turtles who sometimes can no longer eat or swim.

Kennedy noted that most of the turtles brought in this year were Kemp’s ridley sea turtles, which are critically endangered. He said it’s estimated that roughly 8,000 nesting females remain.

Although social distancing requirements due to the COVID-19 pandemic have limited the number of volunteers in the facility, Kennedy said the team has streamlined their process to ensure the turtles still receive quality care.

“Last year from the turtles that came into our facility that were alive, 85% of those animals survived to either head off to longer-term rehab or have been released locally by us this summer,” Kennedy said.

When the creatures arrive at the aquarium’s hospital, Kennedy said the team monitors heartrate, respiration rate, and activity level.

The crew stabilizes the creatures and releases the ones that are strong enough to survive.

The aquarium works with a group called Turtles Fly Too to transport some of the animals to be released at locations with warmer water temperatures.

Kennedy said some turtles remain in the aquarium’s rehab for 8 to 9 months.

Satellite and acoustic tags are outfitted on some of the turtles when they are released to track them over time.

Kennedy said the evidence suggests the animals survive after they leave the rehab facility.

Two turtles were recently released into waters off Cape Cod for the aquarium’s final release of the season.

By Brian Engles, NewsCenter

About Brian Engles

Brian Engles is a longtime local of the Cape. He studied Film & TV at Boston University and in addition to his role at Cape Cod Broadcasting Media, he also works as a music instructor and records original songs.
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