Reflecting on a Successful Turtle Season

Kemp's ridley sea turtle

The 2014-2015 Cold-Stunned Sea Turtle Stranding will be remembered as a historic, record-breaking event. Over 1,235 sea turtles – Kemp’s ridleys, greens, and loggerheads – washed ashore along the beaches of Cape Cod Bay after succumbing to the chilly waters at the turn of the season. In a typical winter, Cape Cod might see 100-200 cold-stunned sea turtles. The difference between this year and previous years is not yet determined, but there are a few theories. Is there a “warm water bridge” that transported the turtles to Cape Cod Bay from the Gulf Stream? Is this an indicator of a recent successful hatchling year? Is the overall health of the sea turtle population rebounding? Is this the new normal?? We will have to wait and see….

DSC_0003 52 Beach

After 4 months of rehabilitation, Kemp’s ridley sea turtle #52, Sarah Olivia, was happily and healthily reintroduced to the Atlantic Ocean to continue the recovery of this Endangered Species.

The National Marine Life Center admitted 32 Kemp’s ridley sea turtles – the most endangered type in the world – in November and December 2014. Sadly, some were so debilitated, that they did not survive. Each of the turtles was in critical condition, requiring temperature regulation, antibiotics, antifungals, and TLC. Our crew of dedicated animal care staff and volunteers brought these turtles back to life and they were released this spring. The first 13 turtles were driven down to Florida, with generous donor support, and released into the Atlantic in sunny New Smyrna, Florida on March 7th. The remaining 11 stayed back for extra R&R. Nine were released on April 18th in Little Talbot Island State Park, also in Florida. #41 and #49 have been transported to the National Aquarium in Baltimore for a few more weeks of rehabilitation before release, enabling NMLC to have extra pool space for our expected Harbor Seal pups.