Turtle Rescuing Season Begins on Cape Cod

A recent visitor at the New England Aqarium's Sea Turtle Hospital. Photo/NEA
A recent visitor at the New England Aqarium’s Sea Turtle Hospital. Photo/NEA

Turtle season is underway in the waters around Cape Cod. And for the staff at the Sea Turtle Hospital at the New England Aquarium in Boston, that means being ready to respond to injured and stranded turtles.

As the temperatures get colder, and the seas become hospitable, sea turtles begin stranding on the beaches of Cape Cod. At the Sea Turtle Hospital, staff are ready and waiting. They have spent the past few months gearing up, cleaning, restocking medical supplies and sprucing up their facility.

In early August they released their final turtles, with one exception, a Ridley named Golden Crisp. With one turtle left in house, the volunteers had plenty of time to help the staff make improvements to the facility. Since that time, they’ve built a new filter system for one of their tanks, created new tank dividers, drained and scrubbed all swim tanks, and freshly painted the deck. While they were busy working on the facility, they were surprised by a few early visitors. A juvenile Kemp’s Ridley and a robust, young, loggerhead arrived at the facility in the middle of September. These turtles were not cold-stunned, and presented other health issues. They received first rate medical and husbandry care over the course of a few weeks until they were cleared for release by the veterinary staff.

Just two weeks ago, they were transferred to the National Aquarium of Baltimore, along with Golden Crisp, for release back into the ocean.

The hospital’s sea turtle partners at the Massachusetts Audubon’s Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary (Mass Audubon) will decide the naming theme this year, which has yet to be announced. Mass Audubon is in charge of all sea turtle beach rescues in southeast Massachusetts. It’s a crucial role in the sea turtle effort in Massachusetts. Audubon staff and volunteers walk the beaches day and night at each high tide searching for and rescuing the turtles from the beach. They also manage all the turtle transports from the Cape to the hospital, often managing and scheduling two transports a day in the busiest part of the season.

Follow the Sea Turtle Hospital at NEA online.