QUINCY (CBS) – Almost three dozen rescued sea turtles are on their way to sunny Florida.
Staff at the New England Aquarium loaded 35 of the turtles onto Coast Guard planes early Friday. This is the first of many upcoming flights after more than 150 turtles came ashore on Cape Cod in November.
The endangered sea creatures are bound for five different marine animal centers, after the Aquarium’s Animal Care Center team nursed them back to health.
It’s been a record year for turtle strandings already. The season is not over yet and is often made worse by severe weather. This season’s historic number of stranded turtles means the Aquarium needs to make room.
“To understand the scale, sea turtle hospitals in places like Florida may handle 25 in a season, 6 to 8 in a day,” says Tony Lacasse of the New England Aquarium.
“Here in Boston, we handle more mass casualties of sea turtles than any other place in the world, but we’re at our capacity.”
Many of the turtles are endangered Kemp’s Ridleys. A species devastated by the 2010 gulf oil spill and cleanup.
This year, crews found loggerhead turtles weighing up to 100 pounds, making the rescue effort even more challenging.