The New England Aquarium has been treating a rising variety of hypothermic sea turtles after hotter ocean temperatures delayed the beginning of the annual stranding season alongside Cape Cod.
The turtles started to strand alongside Cape Cod 10 days in the past. Staff and volunteers from the Massachusetts Audubon Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary have been strolling the seashores looking for cold-stunned turtles and transporting the animals to the Aquarium’s Sea Turtle Hospital in Quincy — the place they get handled for life-threatening medical circumstances ensuing from hypothermia.
So far this season, Aquarium staffers have handled 170 sea turtles — 133 critically endangered Kemp’s ridley turtles and 37 inexperienced turtles.
“In years past, cold-stunned sea turtles would begin to wash ashore in late October,” mentioned Adam Kennedy, director of Rescue and Rehabilitation. “Milder weather means the waters of Cape Cod Bay are staying warmer for a prolonged period of time, which we believe could be a sign of climate change’s impact on the Gulf of Maine.”
When the turtles get to the Aquarium’s Sea Turtle Hospital, the animals are evaluated by a bodily examination, bloodwork, X-rays, and exams for his or her coronary heart and respiratory charges. Many of the turtles endure from dehydration and pneumonia.
“All of our sea turtle patients receive individualized care based on their condition,” mentioned Director of Animal Health Charles Innis. “Depending on the severity, turtles may need weeks, months, and sometimes more than a year of treatment before they are at a point where we can clear them for release back into the ocean.”
The Aquarium works carefully with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Fisheries Service, the nonprofit Turtles Fly Too, and different companions to assist transport and rehabilitate the animals.
To make room for brand new cold-stunned turtles on the Sea Turtle Hospital, some stabilized turtles are transported to secondary rehab amenities, the place they proceed to get remedy earlier than being launched into the ocean.
Volunteer pilots with Turtles Fly Too started transport flights on Sunday — flying greater than 40 turtles from the New England Aquarium and National Marine Life Center to the South Carolina Aquarium, Georgia Sea Turtle Center, and Atlantic Marine Conservation Society in New York.
Another 12 turtles made their technique to Mystic Aquarium final week. Other extra important turtles stay on the New England Aquarium, the place many will full their full rehab course of earlier than being launched subsequent summer time.
The variety of annual cold-stunned sea turtle strandings in Massachusetts varies from yr to yr, however has steadily elevated from round 50 in 2000 to greater than 700 final yr.