2014 is a historic year for sea turtle strandings, with unprecedented number coming ashore. To date, nearly 1,200 have stranded. These numbers have put a strain not only on our Massachusetts sea turtle rescue and rehabilitation organizations, but on turtle hospitals all along the east coast who have stepped up to help.
The turtles are suffering from cold-stunning, a form of severe hypothermia that results when these cold-blooded reptiles – that would normally swim south for the winter – become trapped inside Cape Cod Bay. Mass Audubon Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary is responsible for sea turtle rescue, and has volunteers patrolling the beaches daily searching for these endangered animals. The New England Aquarium is the lead rehabilitation agency in the state, and triages all animals before – in some cases – sending them on to other facilities. NOAA Fisheries, Greater Atlantic Regional Office manages the Northeast stranding network.
The National Marine Life Center is stepping up to help. So far this year, we’ve admitted almost as many animals as we have total for the past decade! We accepted 20 Kemp’s ridley turtles on November 20, ten more on November 26, and two on December 9. Sadly, some were so debil
Each of the turtles is in serious condition, requiring antibiotics and fluid therapy. Several are still not eating, so we have been tube feeding them a gruel made of fish, saline, and vitamins. Those that are eating are being fed their choice of herring and squid twice daily. Keeping track of who eats what is a challenge!itated they didn’t make it. However, the 29 we currently have on-site are keeping us very busy and stretching our resources to the limit.
The turtles are here for the long haul. A normal rehabilitation of these critically endangered animals lasts from five to nine months. Each will require liters of fluids, bottles of antibiotics, and many pounds of herring and squid. Trained staff and dedicated volunteers will spend thousands of hours with just one end goal in mind – rehabilitating as many of these turtles as possible so they may be released back to the wild.
You can help too!
Click here to donate towards sea turtle rehabilitation.
Click here to adopt the sea turtles. Each adoption is only $35, and buys much needed medicine and food for the turtles. Consider a special adoption gift of $500, which allows you or a loved one to name a sea turtle! Adoptions make a great gift for the holidays.