QUINCY, Mass. (WBZ NewsRadio) – After a slow start to the annual sea turtle stranding season, the New England Aquarium is treating more turtles rescued from Cape Cod.
Rescue and animal health staff at the aquarium’s sea turtle hospital in Quincy have cared for almost 120 turtles thus far. The reptiles have been treated for life-threatening conditions including pneumonia and dehydration that result from hypothermia and the inability to feed.
“After months of planning and preparation, our team has mobilized quickly to triage these animals as temperatures dip in Cape Cod Bay and lead to more and more strandings,” said Adam Kennedy, Manager of Rescue and Rehabilitation. He said as these turtles try to travel through the hook-like area of Cape Cod Bay, they are slowed down by the rapidly changing water temperature and wind pattern.
“They’re trying to go south,” Kennedy said. “These turtles’ normal body temperatures are in the mid-70s [but] when they get here, they’re anywhere between 50 and 40.”
Most of these turtles include critically endangered Kemp’s ridley turtles, green turtles and loggerheads. Dr. Charles Innis, director of animal health at the aquarium, said every turtle receives specific care based on its condition.
“Early in the season, we typically see the smaller Kemp’s ridley and green turtles,” Innis said. “The larger loggerhead turtles will start to wash ashore in December, though we saw our first loggerhead of the season on Thanksgiving Day.”
Once the turtles are stabilized, the aquarium’s veterinarians will clear them for travel to a secondary rehabilitation facility.
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