An unusual number of sea turtles have been washing ashore in New England, many of which are the critically endangered turtle species called Kemp’s ridley.
A Massachusetts wildlife sanctuary director tells the Cape Cod Times that at least 219 turtles washed ashore Wednesday through Friday on Cape Cod beaches. The expert tells CNN that 173 of those turtles have died.
Mass Audubon Director Bob Prescott said 227 cold-stunned turtles were recovered from the Gulf of Maine since Wednesday, but only 54 lived. Mass Audubon, the largest nature conservation nonprofit in Massachusetts, regularly patrols the beaches this time of year looking for cold-stunned turtles, Prescott said.
“This was way too cold,” Prescott said. “Everything was slushy by yesterday morning. Some of them are small. It didn’t take long for them to freeze.”
The phenomenon is not uncommon, but the number of stranded turtles this year has already surpassed what is considered normal for the season. Turtles usually continue to be found ashore through Christmas.
Mass Audubon Director Bob Prescott says it’s possible the region could see nearly 1,000 stranded turtles before the new year.
Most sea turtles migrate between areas where they can find food and areas where they can give birth, and typically to warmer waters, according to SEE Turtles, a conservation tourism project that aims to protect sea turtles.
Prescott believes a warming trend in the Gulf of Maine has allowed the turtles to delay migration south.
Source: The Associated Press