QUINCY, Massachusetts — A record number of sea turtles have been rescued this season after becoming stunned by cold water and washing ashore on Cape Cod beaches, the New England Aquarium said Wednesday.
Since early last month, more than 700 turtles have received veterinary care at two animal care facilities that participate in the rescue program. The previous record was set in 2014, when 692 live turtles were admitted for care.
The turtles become stranded after they forage along the New England coast during the summer and become trapped in the Cape Cod Bay in the fall, according to the aquarium. They become hypothermic and stop swimming as temperatures drop.
Winds and warming water appear to be factors in the increasing number of stranded turtles, said Bob Prescott, who oversees Mass Audubon’s sea turtle rescue program. Warming waters have allowed turtles to enter Cape Cod Bay in the summer, he said, and passing tropical storms have pushed them closer to shore.
Turtles taken to the aquarium’s hospital are treated for injuries and slowly warmed to their normal temperature. Most recover and are later returned to the wild.
Most turtles stranded in the fall are young Kemp’s ridley turtles, a critically endangered species.