More than 150 cold-stunned sea turtles rescued on the East Coast

Boston, Massachusetts - More than 150 sea turtles are being treated being for life-threatening conditions as a result of hypothermia after rescued off the coast of Massachusetts.

A Kemp’s ridley sea turtle recovers in a tank at the New England Aquarium’s Sea Turtle Hospital.
A Kemp’s ridley sea turtle recovers in a tank at the New England Aquarium’s Sea Turtle Hospital.  © Vanessa Kahn/New England Aquarium

Monday, the New England Aquarium in Boston said its Sea Turtle Hospital was treating 120 critically endangered Kemp's ridley turtles and 33 green turtles after they were rescued.

This year, the sea turtles began to strand on Cape Cod on November 18. Volunteers and staff from the Massachusetts Audubon Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary started walking the beach and bringing cold-stunned animals to the Aquarium’s Sea Turtle Hospital.

"In years past, cold-stunned sea turtles would begin to wash ashore in late October," said the aquarium's Adam Kennedy. "Milder weather means the waters of Cape Cod Bay are staying warmer for a prolonged period of time, which we believe could be a sign of climate change's impact on the Gulf of Maine," he said.

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Cold-stunning, which is similar to hypothermia, occurs when the animals become trapped in Cape Cod Bay and are unable to migrate south to warmer waters, according to the sanctuary.

The rescued animals are evaluated by the animal experts upon arrival. Many of these turtles suffer from dehydration and pneumonia.

According to the New England Aquarium, the number of cold-stunned sea turtle strandings in Massachusetts has steadily increased from around 50 a year in 2000 to more than 700 in 2021.

Cover photo: Vanessa Kahn/New England Aquarium

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