National Marine Life Center Transporting 14 Turtles For Release



BUZZARDS BAY – The National Marine Life Center is releasing 14 rehabilitated Kemp’s ridley sea turtles that have been at the center since the 2014 mass stranding in November and December.

Staffers at Massachusetts Audubon’s Wellfleet Bay Sanctuary responded to over 1,235 stranded sea turtles and transported them to the New England Aquarium where they received triage and intensive care.

Once stabilized, the turtles, which are among the most endangered species on earth, were dispersed to marine animal hospitals all along the east and southeast coasts of the United States.

NMLC received 32 Kemp’s ridleys, three times more than ever before.

Fourteen are being released this week, while 13 remain in treatment.

Cape Cod is a considered a stranding hot spot and marine officials say that the Cape juts out into the Atlantic Ocean and acts as a hook that traps southbound migrating sea turtles.

Once trapped in Cape Cod Bay the turtles are exposed to decreasing water temperatures and, as cold-blooded reptiles, can’t regulate their own body temperatures.

Marine Life Center officials say that the turtles suffer from cold stunning, a form of hypothermia and become lethargic and unresponsive and are at the mercy of the currents until they drift ashore.

In a typical year, 150 to 300 sea turtles strand on Cape Cod.

“Their initial assessments revealed a wide range of diagnoses including cold-stunning, pneumonia, fungal infections, flipper injuries, bruising, parasite infestations, and abrasions,” said Dr. “Sea” Rogers Williams, the Center’s Veterinarian and Science Director.

Listed in critical condition, the turtles spent their first several days in the National Marine Life Center’s intensive care unit where they could rest and receive fluids and warming therapy.

Now, three months later, the turtles are active and alert.

According to the center, they are swimming laps around the pool and eating enough squid and herring to feed a small army.

A team of staff and volunteers will begin the journey south to warmer waters on Thursday in a rented van filled with banana boxes.

A quick stop will be made at the National Aquarium in Baltimore, Maryland to pick up three more turtles that originally stranded on Cape Cod and were cared for at the Aquarium.

The transport team will then continue on to Canaveral National Seashore in New Smyrna Beach, Florida.
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