Cold weather brings surge in cold-stunned sea turtles

November 19, 2020 GMT

QUINCY, Mass. (AP) — The onset of cold weather in New England has led to a surge of cold-stunned turtles becoming stranded on Cape Cod beaches, marine scientists said Thursday.

The New England Aquarium’s sea turtle hospital in Quincy has taken in more than 40 turtles in the last two days alone, a large number in a short period of time. That brings to 66 the number of turtles that have already been treated at the aquarium.

The turtles — Kemp’s ridleys, loggerheads, and leatherbacks — are treated for life-threatening medical conditions that are a result of weeks of hypothermia and the inability to feed. Once they’re well enough, they are released back into the ocean.


Staff and volunteers with Massachusetts Audubon’s Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary have been walking the beaches in search of cold-stunned turtles, but are being hampered by the coronavirus pandemic, which requires them to maintain socal distancing.

“The lingering warm temperatures this autumn kept the water temperature just above the threshold for sea turtles. The sudden drop in temperature and winds on Tuesday seemed to kick-start the season, which is now well underway,” Connie Merigo, Marine Animal Rescue Department Manager, said in a statement.