Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Large rescued sea turtle has reason to be thankful

A 175-pound, rescued loggerhead sea turtle from Cape Cod will celebrate Thanksgiving by being offered its first meal of herring and being transferred from its small, intake pool to a large tank.

Several New England Aquarium rescue staff transfer a 170 pound loggerhead sea turtle into a larger tank after receiving some medical treatments after her re-warming.

This thin, near-adult female was rescued from Crosby Beach in Brewster last weekend. She was caked in mud and barnacles as she was hunkering down low in the water column trying to avoid the frigid temperatures that gripped the region then. She is the second largest sea turtle ever rescued during the annual November/December cold stunning season on Cape Cod. Only a 225 pound turtle named Tiny rescued about a decade ago was bigger. Despite her large size, she is still very underweight. Aquarium veterinarians believe that she has probably been debilitated since summer with an underlying medical condition that has yet to be diagnosed and kept her from migrating south.

A rescuer examines a Kemp's ridley sea turtle that arrived earlier this month

In true Thanksgiving tradition, Aquarium staff were gleeful this morning at the prospect of fattening her up in the coming months. She will be named early next week. Each year, Aquarium rescue staff and volunteers pick a theme from which to choose names. Past themes have included national parks, detective novel characters and constellations. This year’s theme is breakfast cereals and their mascots!

The stranding season this year on Cape Cod has gotten off to a very fast start with nearly 70 hypothermic sea turtles brought to the Aquarium’s sea turtle hospital in the old Quincy shipyard. Eighteen animals have been re-warmed and stabilized and shipped out to other rehab facilities, including ten to the National Marine Life Center in Bourne and eight to the National Aquarium in Baltimore. In this season of thanksgiving, the New England Aquarium is truly grateful to its stranding network partners from Florida to Maine which take in sea turtles that require months of rehab.

The recent cold weather has resulted in a higher percentage of small, stranded sea turtles dying on beaches due to exposure as overnight temperatures have been in the 20’s. Today’s storm with its very strong, southeast winds might result in some sea turtles being washed on the South Shore versus the norm of the Outer Cape. The Aquarium asks post-Thanksgiving beach walkers to keep their eyes peeled for unusual objects in the debris at the high tide line.

If someone finds a turtle, please call Mass Audubon at Wellfleet Bay at 508-349-2615.

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