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Hypothermic Sea Turtles


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Evidently, even those creatures adapted to life in the sea are vulnerable

From the Communications Dept. at the New England Aquarium:

Since last Thursday, thirty cold stunned sea turtles have arrived at the Aquarium from Cape Cod. Unfortunately, nineteen arrived dead or near death with extremely low body temperatures. Normally at this time of year, 10-20% of the hypothermic sea turtles are dead upon arrival. This past weekend’s high percentage has been a product of the extraordinarily cold temperatures and winds that we have had since last week. If a cold-stunned sea turtle arrives alive at the Aquarium, it has nearly a 90% chance of survival given the dedication and talent of our rescue and veterinary staff.

The water temperature in much of Cape Cod Bay is about 47 degrees, but the water temperature just off of Wellfleet is in the low 40’s as the shallow water there has been more thoroughly turned over and cooled by the wind and wave activity. When the westerly winds drive these nearly inert, young sea turtles on to the beach, that is their most vulnerable time for more dramatic chilling. If a turtle comes up on an overnight high tide, it can be exposed to air temperatures and wind chill that can be twenty degrees colder than the water temperature. This is why the volunteer beach walkers from the Mass Audubon Sanctuary at Wellfleet Bay are so crucial in trying to locate turtles before greater hypothermia seeps in.

Anticipating the cold weather, Aquarium staff early last week shipped five sea turtles in stable condition to the University of New England in Biddeford, Maine for further rehabilitation. There are currently twelve live sea turtles being treated in the AMC. Among them is a 40 pound loggerhead which came in with a body temperature of 35 degrees. It is swimming well now and making good progress.

Of the 36 sea turtles that have been collected so far this season, most have been Kemp’s Ridley, but there have also been four green sea turtle and a couple of hybrids.

Media Relations Director

New England Aquarium

Central Wharf, Boston, MA 02110

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Thanks Peter!

i am going to pass this along around down here at work (RI Audubon) since most of us are on the RI Sea Turtle Disentanglement team....



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