Cape Cod Sea Turtle Cold-Stunning

Many of us associate sea turtles with the tropics, but turtles like the Kemp’s Ridleys, greens and loggerheads actually come up to New England waters in Cape Cod during the summer to feed. Because of the Cape’s geography, juvenile turtles commonly get stuck, not knowing that they need to swim north before they can head south. Each year, sea turtles that overstay in New England waters become cold-stunned as the waters turn cold, unable to move and eventually die if not found by Massachusetts Audubon volunteers and sent to the New England Aquarium’s cold-stunned sea turtle rehabilitation program. Last year, Audubon recovered 400 such turtles on the beach and about 200 made it to the Aquarium for rehab.

The picture story features Dennis Murley, the director of the turtle program at Audubon who has recovered an estimated 3000 turtles over fifteen years, and Kayla Phelps, a marine biology college student who aspires to study sea turtles in Florida. Members of the public who find turtles should place the turtle above the high tide line on the beach, cover it with seaweed and call the Audubon turtle hotline at 508-349-2615, ext 104. According to Murley, one day, he received seven calls from volunteers who found turtles on the beach in fifteen minutes.

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Click here for the full photoessay on Boston University News Service.