Dozens of Turtles Stranding on Outer Cape Beaches

Photo Courtesy: Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary. A turtle is treated after being rescued from an Outer Cape beach this week

Photo Courtesy: Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary. A turtle is treated after being rescued from an Outer Cape beach this week

WELLFLEET – More than 30 stranded sea turtles were rescued from Outer Cape beaches between Tuesday night and Wednesday morning.

The Mass Audubon’s Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary said the turtles were all located on Eastham and Wellfleet beaches.

Director Bob Prescott said that brings the total so far this stranding season to nearly 90. The turtles rescued in the last couple of days include Kemp’s Ridleys and Green turtles.

“The last couple of days have been the strongest (winds) and coldest weather that we’ve had this season and so it’s not surprising that we have turtles coming in,” said Prescott.

They struggle when the water temperatures drop and slowly go into hypothermia. Strong winds and high tides have helped rescuers by pushing the endangered turtles closer to shore.

Most are being sent for treatment at a New England Aquarium facility in Quincy.

The turtles are eventually transported and released in warmer waters in the south by other organizations.

Mass Audubon rescued 600 last year. Their all-time record was in 2014 when they rescued 1,200 turtles.

Prescott says warming waters in the Gulf of Maine throughout the year are allowing the turtles to stay further north than they normally would.

“Because it is so warm, turtles that ordinarily would have been discouraged because of the cold water, they would not have come in here, now are coming in. They’re finding the same kind of food they would find in Nantucket Sound where they spend the summer and have a great summer and then leave,” Prescott said.

Cape Cod is considered the world’s biggest hot spot for turtle stranding. Many turtles get caught inside the hook of the Cape when the cold weather arrives and can’t find their way out.

By MATT PITTA, CapeCod.com News Director

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