Stunned Sea Turtle Strandings on the Increase


WELLFLEET – Cold stunned turtles are being beached in increasing numbers as winter sets in on Cape Cod. The animals are being driven ashore by recent high winds, last week over 60 were found on the Cape’s beaches in just over 12 hours between Tuesday night and Wednesday morning.

Most of the animals were endangered Kemp’s Ridleys, most of the 20 animals that washed ashore Monday afternoon were rescued in Brewster and Eastham, the other 40 were stranded Tuesday morning between Dennis and Brewster.

Cold stunned turtles are generally rescued by Mass Audubon’s Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary, anyone finding a turtle should bring it up beyond the surf line, mark it so it can be readily found and contact the Audubon Society. After being recovered they are then treated at the New England Aquarium’s Animal Care facility in Quincy, which has been rehabilitating cold-stunned sea turtles for over 30 years.

Since mid-October, over 130 turtles have washed up on the Cape’s beaches, those rescued before mid-December have the best chance for survival.

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