During the brutal winter months of 2016-2017, over 450 Kemp’s Ridley sea turtles stranded throughout Massachusetts due to “cold stunning,” otherwise known as severe hypothermia.
At the National Marine Life Center, we help rehabilitate these turtles in hopes of restoring their population numbers since Kemp’s Ridley turtles are not only one of the smallest, but also the most endangered species of sea turtle in the world. Most of the turtles that came through our doors this past winter were also treated for pneumonia, parasitic infections, and carapace damage.
Before they can be released, all turtles go through a “pre-release” exam where our volunteer vets check the turtles’ heartbeat, respiration rate, and any external injuries that may be present on the shell or skin to determine if they are fit for release.
On August 2nd, at Craigsville Beach in Centerville, MA, our turtles “Kingsbury”, “Peso”, “Zuma”, “Ziggy”, “Ewok”, “Owen”, “Riptide”, and “Stifler” swam happily away from shore to begin their migration back to the southern Atlantic for the winter. Usually turtles migrate north during the summer months and south during the winter to follow the warmer water. What turtles (and other sea animals) haven’t realized with Cape Cod is that they have to swim east before migrating south to get around the hook of the Cape. By releasing them at Craigsville Beach, we are hoping that they will be able to continue their migration pattern and head straight back to the warmer waters in the south.
The National Marine Life Center couldn’t have accomplished this amazing feat without the support of our volunteers, interns, and sponsors! We would also like to thank everyone that came out to watch the release.
Posted by Christina M.
Christina is a Summer, 2017 Intern at the National Marine Life Center. She has just graduated Rutgers University, where she majored in Marine Biology.