Cold-Stun Season Begins for Cape Cod Bay Turtles

The first cold-stunned sea turtles of 2018 get a lift to the New England Aquarium in Quincy where they will be treated and rehabbed. Pictured are Wellfleet Bay turtle coordinator Maureen Duffy (left) and volunteer driver Irene Lipshires of Eastham. (Photo credit: Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary).

BREWSTER – The cold-stun season on Cape Cod is already underway for endangered sea turtles.

Four Kemp’s ridleys turtles were rescued Monday at beaches in Eastham and Brewster. The animals were recovered by staff members of Mass Audubon’s Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary.

Kemp’s ridleys are the smallest species of sea turtle that usually strand due to cold-stunning. They are also the most endangered sea turtle in the world.

Endangered and threatened sea turtles feed in Cape Cod Bay during the summer and can become cold-stunned after becoming trapped by the Cape’s hook-shaped geography.

The turtles’ body temperatures fall with the water temperature and their systems start to shut down, stopping them from migrating south.

The turtles rescued this week will be treated at the New England Aquarium’s Animal Care Center in Quincy before being released back into the wild.

Similar to last year, this fall’s cold-stun strandings began before the surface temperature of Cape Cod Bay dropped to 50 degrees, when turtles usually begin to wash ashore.

The current temperature in Cape Cod Bay is 57 degrees.

Officials with the Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary said there were 420 cold-stunned sea turtles that washed up along the Cape’s beaches last year.

Since 1999 sea turtle strandings in the fall generally have been rising.

The reasons aren’t clear, but much warmer waters in the Gulf of Maine and increased nesting productivity for some sea turtle species may be two factors.

About NewsCenter

The award-winning NewsCenter provides the Cape Cod community with a constant, credible source for local news. We are on the job seven days a week.
737 West Main Street
Hyannis, MA 02601
Contact Us | Advertise Terms of Use 
Employment and EEO | Privacy