QUINCY (CBS) — New England Aquarium volunteers and staff are hard at work rescuing sea turtles from Cape Cod Beaches.
“A lot of people don’t even realize that there’s sea turtles in Cape Cod, let alone sea turtles that need help,” said New England Aquarium rescue volunteer Hannah Crawford.
The yearly sea turtle stranding season is a result of changing water temperatures and wind patterns.
“These turtles are all cold-stunned. So it’s kind of hypothermia for sea turtles. Once the winter comes, because of the shape of Cape Cod, they want to go South but they hit the Cape and it’s counter-intuitive for them to go North and then East and then around,” said Sea Turtle Hospital manager Adam Kennedy.
Volunteers bring the turtles to the aquarium’s aptly-named “Sea Turtle Hospital” in Quincy for treatment, which is seeing things ramp up after a slower than usual start to the season.
“Over the past week we’ve started to see a big increase in the numbers of turtles coming in. We have now taken in over 100 turtles into the facility and are awaiting some more,” said Kennedy.
Since November 17th, 119 turtles have been cared for at the Sea Turtle Hospital so far this season.
According to the New England Aquarium, an average of 370 sea turtles per year have been rescued at the facility in Quincy over the last decade, and at this point, there’s no telling what this cold-stun season will bring.
“It’s hard to know. We’re still getting small turtles so that’s kind of indicating it’s early in the season. Cape Cod Bay just got to 50 degrees today, so that’s normally that big where we start seeing a lot of turtles coming in,” said Kennedy.
Once the turtles are stabilized, which can take weeks or months, they are transported to partner organizations for further rehabilitation before being released back into the ocean.
“To see them going from no movement, maybe one heartbeat per minute to thriving is super rewarding for me,” said Crawford.