Kamis, 25 Februari 2021

11 Endangered Stunned Cold Sea Turtles Get New Chance At Life - Patch.com

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WESTHAMPTON BEACH, NY — Eleven endangered, cold-stunned Kemp's ridley sea turtles are being flown home to Florida for a second chance at life.

After 81 days in the Atlantic Marine Conservation Society's critical care facility in Westhampton Beach, on Friday, the rehabilitated sea turtles will be transported to Gabreski Airport by AMSEAS biologists for a flight coordinated by Turtles Fly Too to Canaveral National Seashore in Florida where they will be released back into the ocean.

In December, AMSEAS admitted 20 cold-stunned Kemp's ridley sea turtles to triage in their Westhampton Beach critical care facility. The sea turtles arrived from the New England Aquarium on a flight coordinated by Turtles Fly Too, landing at Gabreski Airport. AMSEAS' efforts are part of the specially trained animal response team to help provide support to other organizations within the network.

All of the turtles that were received at the AMSEAS facility were found on the beaches around the Cape Cod shoreline and transferred to the Westhampton Beach facility within five days. After receiving care, the turtles made significant improvements in their health and were deemed ready to be released.

Cold stun season occurs in the northeast when water temperatures drop below 50 degrees Fahrenheit in the fall, and some sea turtles are not able to make their way south to warmer waters, AMSEAS said.

The animals become hypothermic or "cold-stunned." Initial symptoms include a decreased heart rate, decreased respiration, and lethargy, followed by shock, pneumonia, and possibly death. An average 400 to 900 cold-stunned sea turtles are stranded on beaches throughout the northeast United States every year.

"Even though we have responded to over 800 animals in the last four years, our ability to rehabilitate and release these 11 endangered Kemp's ridley sea turtles is the essence of why we formed Atlantic Marine Conservation Society to be able to help during a crisis," AMSEAS founder and chief scientist Rob DiGiovanni said.

AMSEAS is working with NOAA Fisheries, Turtles Fly Too, the Kennedy Space Center, and Canaveral National Seashore to transfer the 11 turtles to Florida; four turtles are still in AMSEAS' care, which they are hoping to clear for release as soon as possible, AMSEAS said.

"We are happy that AMSEAS was able to bring their critical care facility online to assist the network during its response to the largest live sea turtle cold stun event in our region's history," NOAA Fisheries Stranding and Disentanglement Coordinator Kate Sampson said. "It is exciting to have the first sea turtles rehabilitated at AMSEAS heading back out into the wild at Canaveral National Seashore this week."

AMSEAS was formed in the fall of 2016 to help stranding network partners and is authorized to respond to both live and dead marine mammals and sea turtles in New York.

"While all are familiar with the challenges 2020 presented with COVID-19, few are aware of the difficulties encountered by marine mammal and sea turtle responders," AMSEAS said.

The 2020 season has shown an increase in the number of large whale strandings, large whale disentanglements, and cold-stunned, or hypothermic, sea turtles, AMSEAS said.

In the fall of 2020, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries requested that AMSEAS create a critical-care triage facility to take in cold-stunned sea turtles that had stranded in Massachusetts, AMSEAS said.

Due to the constraints of COVID-19 and one of the busiest cold stun events in history along the shores of Massachusetts, the state's stranding organizations realized the need to move animals to other care facilities, AMSEAS said. Many of the sea turtles that were being transferred were on the beach for two or three days before they were flown to other facilities.

"It's an honor to be able to be part of a network that can help come together during critical times to respond; working with all our network partners up and down the coast is one of our primary objectives at Atlantic Marine Conservation Society," said DiGiovanni. "We're glad that AMSEAS could be there when the phone rang. Because of the support of all our donors, volunteers, staff, and partners, we were able to answer the call."

Sea turtles are commonly found in waters off the mid-Atlantic and northeast U.S. during the summer and early fall. The turtles enter northeast bays and coastal waters in the summer. Some appear to stay too long into the fall, and those in Cape Cod Bay are blocked from warmer waters offshore and south by the arm of the Cape, AMSEAS said.

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February 25, 2021 at 10:46PM
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11 Endangered Stunned Cold Sea Turtles Get New Chance At Life - Patch.com

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