Rabu, 18 November 2020

Cold-Stunned Sea Turtles Wash Ashore as Waters Cool - CapeCod.com News

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Kemp’s ridley sea turtle

WELLFLEET – As the winter season approaches, cold-stunned sea turtles begin to wash ashore on Cape Cod’s bay-side beaches, including several recently rescued by the Mass Audubon Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary.

Nine turtles were found including seven live Kemp’s ridley sea turtles, the world’s most endangered sea turtle species, found along beaches from Eastham to Brewster by trained volunteers.

A loggerhead sea turtle was also rescued in Orleans and a dead ridley was recovered from Race Point in Provincetown.

The animals become trapped due to the hooked shape of the Cape and become unable to escape the cooling waters to the warmer south for their migration.

Cold water causes the turtles to slowly stop feeding and swimming, after which strong winds can blow them ashore where volunteers or beach-goers discover them.

“Once the water temperature gets below 60 they really start to shut down. They’re spending more and more time on the bottom, and physiologically they’re shutting this off,” said Bob Prescott, Director of the Sea Turtle Programs at the Mass Audubon Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary.

Sea turtles tend to become stranded on Cape beaches form late October through December.

In 2019, about 300 turtles stranded.

In 2014, a record 1200 turtles were rescued or recovered.

“What we ask people to do is move the turtle above the high-tide line so it doesn’t wash away and cover it with thatch, seaweed or something. That protects the turtle from the wind until we can get down there,” said Prescott.

Because the turtles are federally endangered species, people are not allowed to remove the turtles from the beach, said Prescott.

“It’s better to leave them just where they are and cover them. As soon as you cover them, the healing begins. Their body condition is no longer deteriorating and they’re starting to relax a little bit.”

Rescued turtles are slowly warmed up over the course of several days and moved to the New England Aquarium or the National Marine Life Center.

Once they are rehabilitated and healthy, the turtles will be released back into the wild further south in the spring or summer.

Prescott asks that those who find any cold-stunned turtles along the beach call the Mass Audubon number at (508) 349-2615 ext 6104.

The Link Lonk


November 18, 2020 at 05:00PM
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Cold-Stunned Sea Turtles Wash Ashore as Waters Cool - CapeCod.com News

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