Cape Cod Turtle Stranding Season Begins

A Kemp’s ridley sea turtle recovers in a tank at the New England Aquarium’s Sea Turtle Hospital.
CREDIT: Vanessa Kahn/New England Aquarium

HYANNIS – Turtle stranding season on Cape Cod has begun, with the New England Aquarium reporting that they’re already treating over 170 washed-ashore reptiles. 

Director of their Turtle Hospital Adam Kennedy said this is the latest start to the season they have seen, which he attributes to many factors including weather and winds on the Pacific coast.

“We know that the warming of the Gulf of Maine is definitely a climate change piece that’s allowed for so many more turtles to come in the first place to Cape Cod Bay. But the stranding date we’ve seen fluctuate over the many years,” said Kennedy.

According to the Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary, the stranding season has existed since the late 1970s. 

Local experts with the Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary urge those who find turtles stranded along the Cape’s beaches during the winter months to move them above the high tide line, cover them with seaweed, and mark the location with an obvious piece of debris, like driftwood.

“A lot of the time these turtles that look like they’re dead are alive. So definitely don’t bring it back to your house, don’t warm it up, and don’t put it back in the water because it is way too cold for them. Definitely reach out to the folks that do this professionally,” said Kennedy. 

After marking the area, beachgoers are urged to contact the Sanctuary through their stranding hotline at 508 349 2615 x6104.

More information on what to do if a stranded turtle is spotted can be found on the Sanctuary’s website here

About Grady Culhane

Grady Culhane is a Cape Cod native from Eastham. He studied media communications at Cape Cod Community College and joined the News Center in 2019.
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