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.

In this Friday, Nov. 23, 2018 photo, a pair of deceased Kemp's ridley turtles await processing at the Audubon Society's Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary in Wellfleet, Mass., as cold stunned turtles are brought in off area beaches after several days of below freezing weather. Mass Audubon Director Bob Prescott believes a warming trend in the Gulf of Maine has allowed the turtles to delay migration south. (Steve Heaslip/The Cape Cod Times via AP)
In this Friday, Nov. 23, 2018 photo, a pair of deceased Kemp’s ridley turtles await processing at the Audubon Society’s Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary in Wellfleet, Mass., as cold stunned turtles are brought in off area beaches after several days of below freezing weather. Mass Audubon Director Bob Prescott believes a warming trend in the Gulf of Maine has allowed the turtles to delay migration south. (Steve Heaslip/The Cape Cod Times via AP)

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.

In this Friday, Nov. 23, 2018 photo, a sign at Skaket Beach warns beachgoers to keep watch for cold stunned sea turtles on the beach, in Orleans, Mass. An unusual number of sea turtles have been washing ashore in New England, many of which are a critically endangered turtle species called Kemp's ridley. (Steve Heaslip/The Cape Cod Times via AP)
In this Friday, Nov. 23, 2018 photo, a sign at Skaket Beach warns beachgoers to keep watch for cold stunned sea turtles on the beach, in Orleans, Mass. An unusual number of sea turtles have been washing ashore in New England, many of which are a critically endangered turtle species called Kemp’s ridley. (Steve Heaslip/The Cape Cod Times via AP)

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

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